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.
While physical therapy and pain medications over time helped ease the numbness and discomfort Scott experienced, he was not symptom free. In fact, he was faced with a dilemma: he could live with his symptoms and adjust his active lifestyle (which meant cutting back on his rigorous workouts and aggressive skiing style) or risk a more serious injury.
“When my doctor saw my MRI she said it looked pretty serious and told me to be careful,” recalled Scott. “You could see that the combination of a narrow spinal canal and bulging discs provided very little room for my spinal cord to pass through and potentially put me at risk for paralysis.”
Scott was apprehensive about surgery, but he was also worried about the chances of getting hurt while pursuing one of his passions. In the end, he thought a second opinion from a spine surgeon could provide more clarity.
Of the three Denver spine surgeons his doctor recommended, Dr. Jatana was the first – and the last one he visited.
“I just started on that path with Dr. Jatana and I was so impressed by his office that I didn’t go any further with anyone else,” explained Scott. “I had no reservations and felt that if he couldn’t get the job done, no one else would be better. He and his team immediately inspired confidence.”
After considering Scott’s questions and concerns, Dr. Jatana suggested fusion surgery to relieve his symptoms, provide greater spine stability, and reduce the risk of spinal cord damage.
“He said the probability was high that the situation could be fixed. He thought surgery could be of benefit and allow me to go back to my normal life and that’s exactly what happened.”
Scott had fusion surgery in October 2014. While he remembers being uncomfortable after the procedure, he also “felt immediately better.” The dullness and numbness that had plagued his right arm was gone. Scott was walking the night of his surgery and back at work the following week.
Gradually, Scott worked his way up to walking five to six miles daily and returned to the slopes for the first time after his surgery in February 2015. More than a year later, Scott is enjoying all the activities he engaged in pre-surgery, aside from really heavy weightlifting.
“From my point of view, this could not have worked out any better. I have no buyer’s remorse and the biggest benefit for me is having peace of mind. I feel like Dr. Jatana’s expertise and skill, along with his amazing team, gave me my life back. Not only did they fix what was broken, they did so with caring, compassion, and a genuine interest in what I hoped to achieve. In every way I felt exceptionally well taken care of.”