Spine Center Gives Nancy Relief from Chronic Back Pain and Second Chance at Retirement

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Neck & Back Pain

Nancy Schuttenhelm, 72, imagined her life after retirement would be slow and easy. When her back pain became chronic, it felt like life had come to a halt.

After retiring from a career in nursing at MemorialCare Long Beach Medical Center, Nancy had plans to spend more time with family, especially her grandchildren, and enjoying an active lifestyle filled with long walks and plenty of golf.

Unfortunately for Nancy, the chronic pain in her back made time spent with loved ones and exercise extremely difficult.

“The pain in my back really started to become unbearable, making it hard to get out of bed in the morning and do simple everyday tasks,” says Nancy. “I had hip replacement surgery at Long Beach Medical Center almost 10 years ago and was diagnosed with osteoporosis — a degenerative bone disease. I knew because of my medical history and because the spine is such a sensitive and complicated area that I needed to see a specialist.”

Nancy made an appointment with Amandeep Bhalla, M.D., an orthopedic surgeon at the Spine Center at Long Beach Medical Center.

“I had heard good things about Dr. Bhalla during my time at Long Beach Medical Center, and believed he was one of the best spine surgeons in Southern California,” says Nancy. “After my first consultation with him I felt completely comfortable and had complete confidence in him and his team to help me with my back problems.”

Dr. Bhalla diagnosed Nancy with spinal stenosis in her lower back, a narrowing of the spinal canal that can cause pinching of the nerves which contributes to pain and discomfort after standing and walking for long periods of time. Osteoarthritis can affect the bone structure around the spinal canal as you age and can lead to spinal stenosis.

Dr. Bhalla and his team performed a laminectomy on Nancy’s spine, which fused together a section of her lower back where there was instability that was contributing to the spinal stenosis. Metal screws were also inserted to stabilize the spinal area and prevent abnormal motion, which also contributes to spinal stenosis. 

“Four weeks post-operation I could already feel the difference in my back and was able to start physical therapy,” says Nancy. “The entire recovery process was easy on myself and my family. The pre-operation classes were valuable and the spine surgery guidebook you take home made me feel comfortable continuing recovery at home after I was discharged.”

Nancy is still continuing with her rehabilitation and physical therapy sessions and is back to being physically active and enjoying a happy and much more pain-free retirement.

“Thank you to Dr. Bhalla and everyone at the Spine Center for everything,” says Nancy. “I am so happy with the results. I am now back to golfing and my long walks. Most importantly I am able to spend time and play with my grandchildren and can even keep up with them!”