Back Surgery for a Herniated Disc: Carl Pletcher’s Story

Fifteen years ago Carl Pletcher’s lower back began to hurt. When the pain moved down his back into his right leg he knew he needed to have it checked, but didn't know it would lead to herniated disc surgery.

“I went to a chiropractor who said I had a bulging disc, recalls the Sandusky resident. “I had a few treatments and that took care of it.”

Carl’s back pain returned, but this time the pain extended into his left leg. His family physician prescribed physical therapy, but Carl’s condition worsened. He soon was confined to a chair at home, unable to walk from room to room without intense pain.

“I hobbled around at home and if I went anywhere I had to use a wheelchair. I was in excruciating pain all the time,” says Carl. “Then I saw the billboard for the Firelands Spine Center and I thought, ‘My back hurts, so why not go there?’”

surgery for bulging discOn his first visit to the Firelands Spine Center, he was assessed by physiatrist Christopher Parnell, DO. An MRI was ordered, which showed a herniated disc in his lower back. He also underwent an electromyogram (EMG) and nerve conduction study to determine if any of his spinal nerves had been affected. The Spine Center team, which is comprised of neurosurgeons, physiatrists, and a physical therapist, discussed Carl’s case and decided he was a candidate for a lumbar disectomy surgery.

A lumbar discectomy surgery is a procedure to remove part of a problem disc (the pads that separate the vertebrae) in the low back. During the surgery for a bulging disc, the surgeon takes out a small piece of the lamina (the arched bony roof of the spinal canal) to remove the obstruction below. A lumbar disectomy surgery is commonly performed when a herniated or ruptured disc in the low back is putting pressure on a nerve root. Surgery is considered if:

  • The patient has very bad leg pain, numbness, or weakness that keeps him or her from performing daily activities;
  • Leg symptoms do not improve after at least four weeks of non-surgical treatment;
  • Results of a physical exam show that the patient has weakness, loss of motion, or abnormal feeling that is likely to improve after surgery.

Neurosurgeon Dale Braun, MD, performed Carl’s back surgery for a herniated disc at Firelands Regional Medical Center a few days before Christmas.

“I was so pleased with the results from my herniated disc surgery,” Carl said. “I was able to walk down the hallway right after the surgery. It was amazing! Best of all, I went home the same day.”

Carl’s recovery has been remarkable. A retired welder, he can move around almost pain free, allowing him to pursue his hobbies of fishing and collecting vintage clocks, as well as spending time with his five grandchildren.

“When I went back to the Firelands Spine Center for a check-up, the nurse saw me and said ‘Oh my gosh, you’re walking!’” Carl said. “I even shoveled a little snow in January.”

Expertise Beyond Herniated Disc Surgery

  • Neurosurgery Services: Back, Neck & Peripheral Nerve Surgeries; Disc Replacement
  • Physical Medicine Services: Treating Pain, Injuries, Post-Surgery, Rehabilitation
  • Electrodiagnostics
  • Physical Therapy Services

The Firelands Regional Medical Center Spine Center is located at 703 Tyler Street, Suite 350A. Find more information about surgery for bulging discs and the Firelands Spine Center here.