Derek became a firefighter in 1976, serving almost 40 years in the military before retiring as a fire chief. In a recent interview, Derek stated, “Your body is a tool that you use to do the job, between dragging hoses, lifting patients, and having ceilings collapse on you, it takes a tremendous toll on the body.”
A defining moment for Derek was during a routine trip to the grocery store in Bakersfield, CA. He casually bent over to pick up a gallon of milk and threw his back out. Derek then knew it was time to find a solution to his chronic condition. He went home to his wife and said, “We need to do this,” so he made the call to visit with Top US Spine Surgeon, Dr. Hooman Melamed.
When Derek initially came to Dr. Melamed in Los Angeles, it was for his back, but he knew he had to mention his lingering neck issues as well. However, upon a full examination, it was made clear that his neck pain was indicative of a much more serious issue. Derek recalled the discussion with Dr. Melamed where he explained the severity of his neck condition if involved in a car accident with a deployed airbag. He said it was highly probable it would lead to paralysis. Derek was suffering from spinal stenosis in his cervical spine where it was putting significant pressure and compression on his spinal cord and damaging his spinal cord.
Thankfully, Dr. Melamed’s expert microsurgical technique stabilized Derek’s spine with two artificial discs. Derek was extremely pleased with the speed and ease of his recovery, stating, “I kept waiting for the other shoe to drop, believing that I was going to be in more pain and it was going to last longer, but it didn’t.” Dr. Melamed’s attention to detail and expertise in this minimally invasive surgery is the reason why Derek believes his recovery was so easy.
Derek wore a brace for five days after his procedure and had a follow-up six weeks after the initial surgery. After being pleased with how his minimally invasive neck surgery went, Derek was ready to take the next step toward pain relief for his back. “What a huge difference, life-changing for me,” said Derek. After being on Vicodin for almost a decade, Derek was finally able to live drug and pain-free following his surgery in August.
Dr. Melamed was very personable by taking the time to meet with Derek for over 2 hours to discuss his condition and to decide what the best treatment option would be for Derek. “It was so personal and anyone who takes that kind of time and is concerned with a patient, to me, I was incredibly impressed,” said Derek.
Dr. Melamed often notices that many patients get invasive surgeries from other spine surgeons when they aren’t required. He stays true to his values by offering a less invasive surgery and exhausting conservative care options before even considering surgery as an option. Most spine surgeons will place patients on narcotics to help with the pain following surgery. Dr. Melamed follows a holistic approach that doesn’t require patients to take narcotics or other painkillers to relieve pain post-surgery and has his patients back on their feet within hours after surgery and back to work within a few days.
If you suffer from chronic neck or back pain, and conservative treatments have failed to provide relief, call (310) 730-1787 for a virtual or in-person consultation.