As an emergency medical services (EMS) worker in the 1990s, Julie Krejczyk spent a lot of time lifting and moving patients into and out of ambulances. In 2004, she had back surgery to treat a previous injury she suffered as a paramedic.
Earlier this year, the pain returned.
“The sciatica in my back got so bad it was hard to walk around, and eventually the pain switched to my hip, and I was at the point where I had to use a cane to walk around,” the Lockport woman explained.
That’s when she made an appointment to see Dr. Chintan Sampat, board-certified spine surgeon on staff at Silver Cross Hospital. After an MRI revealed a large herniation in one of her spinal discs, Dr. Sampat told Krejczyk that surgery would be the only way to fix the problem.
“He did give me an anti-inflammatory medication, which helped, but he said it really was just a Band-Aid approach,” she said.
Herniated disks usually occur over time when the rubbery disks lose water content, causing them to be less flexible and vulnerable to injury. Symptoms often occur if the herniation compresses a nerve.
“The fastest way to fix a herniated disk like the one Julie had is through surgery,” Dr. Sampat said. “Most patients actually wake up from surgery feeling relief from the pain.”
After surgery, Krejczyk didn’t have to travel far for rehabilitation. She chose the Shirley Ryan AbilityLab at Silver Cross Hospital. The AbilityLab has both outpatient and inpatient services conveniently located right at Silver Cross.
“Effective rehab is critical to recovery,” Dr. Sampat said. “Normally, it can take up to six weeks to fully recover from this type of surgery. But without a good rehab facility it can take even longer.”
During each visit, Krejczyk was introduced to two or three new exercises. Even before her two week follow-up visit with Dr. Sampat, she was feeling better. Today, she’s on the move again, enjoying physical activity that she couldn’t before, like walking, hiking and kayaking.
“Dr. Sampat and everyone at Silver Cross were wonderful,” Krejczyk said. “Dr. Sampat took the time to listen to my concerns, and he was really great at explaining the issue and how he was going to fix it.”
For more information about back and spine care at Silver Cross, visit www.silvercross.org