A former gymnast, Erin Andretsos had experienced back problems for as long as she could remember. But in 2011, her pain suddenly grew worse, exacerbated by lupus and a work schedule that required her to travel for weeks at a time.
In 2013, Lori Lewis was involved in a serious rollover accident that left her with a severe neck injury. Within days of the accident, pain began to take hold in her neck, shoulder and left arm. The neck pain led to headaches and her left arm eventually became so weak she had trouble grasping or lifting anything without pain. Household and work-related tasks such as washing dishes or lifting a ream of copy paper, became impossible.
Scott Ruppenthal was in the midst of a workout when he felt something snap. Initially, Scott thought he’d torn a muscle in his shoulder. The next day, however, he felt a burning sensation in his right arm and turned to his primary care physician for help. Oral steroids provided a week’s worth of relief, but when the pain returned, Scott knew he needed to investigate further. Eventually, an MRI revealed bulging discs in Scott’s neck.
Bill Stahl is an ultra marathoner who has competed in the grueling Leadville 100 seven times. He recently marked his fourth finish and even though he came in last, it’s a feat he won’t soon forget. That’s because less than six months earlier Bill, who also serves as coach of Littleton High School’s cross country team, could barely move his neck, let alone run.
For Mike Dobbs, chronic back pain had become a way of life. He spent a decade avoiding social events or trips to the grocery store because anything that required long periods of standing aggravated the pain. For awhile, cortisone injections provided anywhere from two to six months of relief. But eventually, the shots became more ineffective and Mike got to the point where he couldn’t even take a shower without enduring intense pain.
Kim Uselman jokes that she has a “punchcard” with Dr. Jatana, who has performed five neck and back surgeries on Kim in the past 16 years. A lumbar micro discectomy in 1999, another one in 2001 after a re-injury, an L4-5 microdiscectomy in 2003, a C5-7 cervical discectomy in 2007 and a C4-5 fusion in 2014.
Mimi Nettour was recently retired and looking forward to spending more time swimming, scuba diving and skiing when pain in her right arm and rotator cuff began limiting her activity. Eventually, the pain migrated to her neck and made it impossible for her to stand after about 10 in the morning.
A series of injuries left Teresa Decker grappling with shoulder pain for 16 years. Eventually, the flare ups became more frequent and Teresa got to the point where she could no longer use her left arm at all without enduring intense pain.
Very gradually, I started experiencing an ache in my right arm and a very subtle loss in strength. At first, I thought I just had lactic acid built up in my arm. I dropped a ten-pound weight and did not have the strength to do a bench press. I actually fell off the bench – that’s when I knew I had a problem.
My symptoms started after a snowboarding accident in February 2011. I was doing an inverted aerial and landed upside down on my head with my arms extended. Initially, the pain started in the shoulder, but then I started to have neck pain.
In 2010, I was involved in a pretty serious car accident that totaled my car. I went to the emergency room but no serious injuries were detected. About six months later, I noticed a tingling in my legs and on the side of my body. That turned into a lower backache that got worse and worse.
Like many people, when Mike Graber was hit with debilitating back pain, he turned to the Internet for help. A search for “the best spine surgeons in Denver” yielded Dr. Jatana’s name and Mike was thrilled to obtain an appointment relatively quickly.
I have a long history of cervical spine issues that began when I broke my neck in a car accident at the age of 19 and had a fusion to stabilize my neck. In the years since, I’ve experienced successive degeneration and eventually had another fusion done. I have a peripheral nerve stimulator that helps immensely with neck pain, but I was starting to have more neurologic symptoms that were difficult to figure out and pain that the nerve stimulator couldn’t help.
I sought help from Dr. Jatana after struggling with pain from a back injury. A discectomy that I had undergone previously provided a brief period of relief, but then my pain reappeared and ranged between a five and a nine on the pain scale. When it reached nine, it was truly unbearable.
In March 2013, I developed a stiff neck that quickly turned into some arm pain. My primary care doctor put me on a regimen of oral steroids, pain medication and physical therapy – all of which I did, but to no avail. During a vacation to Florida, my pain started getting worse and I had an MRI, which showed a rupture of a cervical disc and nerve compression.
I was in my late forties when the pain in my neck started getting worse. When my left arm went numb I really got worried, so I went to see my chiropractor. It had been a year since my last visit.