Virginia Walks the Road of Recovery After Spine Surgery

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Surgical Care

Virginia Poston, 76, a retired school teacher, world traveler and Zumba enthusiast, enjoys staying active. She also loves taking strolls along Mother’s Beach in Long Beach to appreciate the calm waters and gentle breezes. When Virginia fell several years ago, she could no longer participate in her favorite hobbies because of devastating back pain that became increasingly worse.

Virginia’s pain had spread from her left leg to her right leg, while she continuously had lower back pain. Eventually, she felt like she could no longer walk and knew she needed help.

After trying many remedies, including steroid injections, acupuncture, chiropractic treatments and massage therapy, Virginia’s back pain continued. That is when she decided to follow-up on her friend’s recommendation to visit Amandeep Bhalla, M.D., spinal surgeon, Spine Center, MemorialCare Long Beach Medical Center.

“I met Dr. Bhalla with some hesitation because I felt anxious about having surgery, though I liked him right away,” says Virginia. “He was very calm and helpful at explaining the procedure to me. I knew I was in good hands.”

From his examination of Virginia’s back, Dr. Bhalla diagnosed her with lumbar stenosis, a collapsing of the vertebrate (spinal bones) in the lower back. This narrowing of the vertebrate causes pressure on the nerves that travel through the spine, resulting in severe discomfort.

In Virginia’s case, her fall had caused additional trauma to the normal wear and tear of her spine.

To ease Virginia’s pain and correct the problem, she had spine surgery in February 2019. Dr. Bhalla used the latest technology, the O-armTM surgical imaging system.

The system is one of the latest before surgery imaging technologies and allowed Dr. Bhalla to visualize Virginia’s spinal column in 3-D to perform precise movements. It also provided real-time images of her spine during surgery to help guide Dr. Bhalla along the optimal, chosen path. 

Dr. Bhalla was able to gain access to the complex parts of Virginia’s spine with the use of advanced imaging and a few precise incisions. This helped Dr. Bhalla avoid additional trauma to Virginia’s surrounding tissue.

Because Virginia had chosen surgery with the O-armTM, she also experienced a faster procedure and shorter recovery time.

“My surgery was only two and a half hours, which was good because I did not have to spend a long time under anesthesia. I have woken up from a surgery before and vomited because of the anesthesia,” says Virginia. “This time I woke up and did not even realize the surgery was already done. Immediately, I could tell the pain was gone; it felt that good.”

Virginia was able to walk the next day following her surgery with only mild muscle soreness. In March 2019, she completely stopped relying on a walker to help her. Today, Virginia continues to go to physical therapy and is practically back to her normal routine. Although Virginia has not yet revisited Mother’s Beach to walk along the shore, she knows she is walking the path to a full recovery one step at a time.