Minimally Invasive Fusion Gets Police Officer Back to Patrol (and Skateboarding!)
It took Shannon K. more than half of his life to finally get rid of his back pain. The 35-year-old police officer, surfer and skateboarder spent many years desperately trying to find a solution to the debilitating pain that was affecting his everyday life.
It all started when the California native was a 15-year-old high school football and baseball player. Suffering a football injury, he began having cramps in his lower back and right hip, and taking a few Advil would help ease the pain. In addition to Advil, Shannon would also undergo physical therapy when flare-ups would occur. This routine seemed to help—for awhile.
When Shannon entered the police academy in what he describes as the best shape of his life, he had trouble sprinting and by the end of the academy, the lower back pain began to worsen. "I was very worried, but I tried to just grind through it," he says.
An avid surfer, Shannon was in his second year as a police officer when vacationing in Hawaii, he was hit by a wave while surfing. "It hurt very bad. By the time I got home, I was in excruciating pain," he says. "The pain was on my right side, lower back and hip and there was now pain in my right shin that was terrible."
Over the next five years, things got worse. Surfing became very difficult for Shannon and he could no longer enjoy skateboarding, one of his favorite recreational activities. He began to have problems with the physical demands of his law enforcement job such as chasing suspects, climbing through windows or even trying to get comfortable sitting in his patrol car. "I was in so much pain. My friends began telling me I looked terrible." He saw many doctors through the years and noone seemed to be able to help him ease the pain. Every day living was an uphill battle.
Finally, Shannon's older brother who had heard of Dr. Paul Slosar from one of his patients, highly recommended he see him. Dr. Slosar examined Shannon, put him through many tests, and ordered an MRI. He diagnosed Shannon with herniated discs at L4, L5 and S1 which were the culprits for the nerve pain and associated back, hip and radiating leg pain he had been suffering from for almost 20 years.
Dr. Slosar recommended conservative therapy as a first treatment, which consisted of pain management injections. This helped for only a day and Shannon's pain returned, making surgery the likely next treatment step.
In 2006, Dr. Slosar performed a micro-discectomy on Shannon to relieve some of the pressure on the nerves. Then in early 2007, he performed a minimally-invasive Anterior Lumbar Interbody Fusion (ALIF) using BMP, and placed screws and rods in Shannon's spine to protect his fusion. BMP (Bone Morphogenetic Protein), a revolutionary technology used in spine surgery, is a genetically engineered bone growth stimulator used to initiate bone growth.
The technique, one of many modern minimally-invasive techniques used by Dr. Slosar, also offers a major plus for patients. It eliminates the need for a second surgery to harvest bone from the hip. This was also good news for Shannon.
Today, Shannon is actively back to surfing, skateboarding and is now playing basketball. His job as a police officer is challenging and pain-free. "Dr. Slosar was very attentive, thorough, and honest. He went into great detail with me explaining exactly what he was recommending. I have all the respect in the world for him. He gave me a lot of motivation."
"Shannon's story is remarkable, not only by the fact that he has returned to work as a police officer with a 2-level fusion. Shannon was struck by a car while skateboarding less than a year after his spine surgery. He unfortunately broke his wrist, but his spine held together without injury! That is a good example of why we use titanium screws to keep your fusion protected while you recover." - Paul Slosar, M.D.