When Bruce Frantz and his wife Beverly retired in 2002, they were looking forward to spending time on their passion – hiking Yellowstone National Park. The natural majesty of this pristine environment has charmed people like the Frantz’s since humans first discovered it. Unfortunately, Bruce’s excruciating back pain kept him away from the park and everything else he enjoyed.
As regular as Old Faithful, Bruce’s pain returned and made it impossible for him to enjoy life, including hiking in this beautiful wilderness. “I have had low back pain for 20 years or more, “Bruce noted in a recent interview. “I managed to tolerate it and stay mostly active with pain control such as NSAID’s and by stretching, exercise and physical therapy.”
As happens many times with chronic back pain, eventually the pain made it impossible for Bruce to do almost anything – from tying his shoes to sleeping.
“My back pain got progressively worse until it seemed our hiking ‘career’ would soon be over,” he said. “I never knew when I would develop numbness in my legs and severe back pain, and how long it would last.”
At his wife Beverly’s insistence, Bruce decided he needed some medical help to climb out of this unrelenting inferno of pain. After consulting his family physician in Greenville, Texas, he was referred to Dr. Ted Belanger of Texas Back Institute. This would change everything.
Surgery Was the Only Option Left
“Bruce has a condition called stenosis, which is a narrowing of the spinal canal,” said Dr. Belanger. “Over time, the bone growth had put pressure on the spinal nerves and his condition was getting worse.”
Since surgery is always the last option, Dr. Belanger tried other medical remedies. New medications were tried along with two rounds of epidural steroidal injections. Nothing relieved the pain.
“Finally, we agreed that surgery was the only option,” noted Frantz. “Dr. Belanger’s calm, professional demeanor helped my confidence level throughout the process!”
In November 2013, Dr. Belanger performed a common surgical procedure known as a Laminectomy. Of course, as any surgical patient can attest, a “common” procedure is one which is performed on somebody else. For Bruce, this operation was extremely serious.
According to Dr. Belanger, a laminectomy is a surgical procedure which creates space in the spinal canal by removing the “lamina” — the back part of the vertebra that covers the spinal canal. “This is sometimes referred to as ‘decompression surgery,’” he notes. “The procedure the spinal canal to relieve pressure on the spinal nerves.”
The results of this procedure were life changing!
“We Were Elated!”
“Beverly and I both agreed that this was miraculous,” said Bruce. “Dr. Belanger, in his understated manner, seemed pleased by the results, but we have been elated!”
“Immediately, I had almost no pain,” he said. “I had no numbness in either leg. I could stoop to tie my shoes, sleep, get out of bed easily and walk without pain.”
“This past summer of 2014, we met a personal goal of hiking 1,500 miles over 11 years of hiking in Yellowstone National Park,” Bruce smiled. “At age 65, my wonderful wife Beverly and I hiked 116 miles last summer with confidence and less pain.”
“Who knows,” he said. “Maybe we can reach the 2,000 miles mark!”
“We are so thankful to Texas Back Institute and Dr. Belanger for giving us back our hiking and quality of life,” Bruce said.
If you are experiencing any of the symptoms Bruce Frantz once had, contact us and we will arrange an examination with one of the spine specialists at Texas Back Institute.