Mike Regains his Stride

When Michael K. was a young boy, his Mother frequently told him to stand up straight. The self-described Catholic "altar boy kid" says even then his back would bother him from standing and kneeling in church, causing him to slouch or have to sit down. He remembers going to museums with his family and having to sit down to rest his back.

Years later, the 59-year-old tax attorney would be surprised to find out that he had some severe problems in his lower lumbar area. A runner his entire life, Michael had enjoyed running marathons with no serious injury. His symptoms began with his left leg tingling, then it began to go numb. Worried, he sought help from Dr. Slosar.

The MRI supported a diagnosis of spinal stenosis, a narrowing of the spinal canal. In addition, his facet joints had no cartilage at L4 and L5, making his movements "bone-on-bone" which was not good. Dr. Slosar recommended a laminectomy and spinal fusion. One week before the surgery, Michael was walking across a parking lot with a client, when his leg completely gave out. He knew more than ever that it was time for surgery.

Dr. Slosar used a newer treatment during the fusion. Bone Morphogenetic Protein (BMP), a genetically-engineered bone growth stimulator, helps the body initiate new bone growth. He used the BMP in the area between L4 and L5 where Michael had no cartilage. BMP eliminates the need for a second surgery to harvest bone to be used from another area of the body such as the hip.

"I feel like I have a 20-year-old body!" exclaims Michael. He still runs about 20 miles a week, and offsets his workouts with other exercises.  Since his surgery in 2007, Mike has run 7 “Way Too Cool” 50k races, as well as countless other races including a half marathon through the Angkor Wat temples in Cambodia. The married father of three adult children says that his encounters with Dr. Slosar and the results of the surgery were "way beyond my expectations... I may be slowing down, but I'm slowing down pain-free!"

From Back Pain to Pilates

For Kelly M., the past 20 years were spent in and out of pain, in chiropractor and doctors' offices and taking pain medications and injections.  It all began with an injury she sustained on the Northern California farm she grew up on, where her family raised sheep, pigs and horses.  When she was 14, Kelly was hit by a ram. Little did she know that her back would remain injured for a very long time.

At first, physical therapy and exercise helped alleviate the lower back pain. Then, it flared up again in college one day while packing books. Again, she tried physical therapy for several years. She kept an active lifestyle of skiing, horseback riding and other sports, but the pain was always not far away.

Finally in 2007, now married and a mother of two, Kelly realized the pain was worsening and she needed to do something. Her love of skiing and horseback riding were intensifying the pain. She was taking strong pain medications and injections that were no longer helping. After several visits to various spine specialists, she found Dr. Slosar while doing research on the internet.

"Three months before my surgery, my husband and I were in marriage counseling because I had no patience and I was having such a hard time coping with life,” says Kelly. "Within a month after my surgery, we just looked at each other and laughed. It was my pain that was putting the strain on our life, and now it was gone!"

Dr. Slosar's approach to her surgery was very progressive and minimally invasive. He used a new way of entering the spine called XLIF which stands for Extreme Lateral Interbody Fusion. Dr. Slosar was able to access her spine from the side with two tiny incisions, which preserved muscles and ligaments. He then used a small plate instead of pedicle screws, because Kelly's frame is so small. Often, surgeons must access the spine from the front or back when performing a fusion. Dr. Slosar was able to use the XLIF technology on Kelly as well as Bone Morphogenetic Protein (BMP), a modern technology. BMP is a genetically-engineered bone growth stimulator used in fusions.

Today, Kelly is pain-free, back to work as a schoolteacher and enjoying life with her family. She does Pilates, walks on the treadmill, does core strengthening work and exercises with a personal trainer. She recently enjoyed a trip to Disneyland with her family which at one point she thought she would never be able to do because of her back pain.

"It has been two years and my husband and I often look at one another and laugh and wonder when the next rocky road will hit because it hasn't yet! We are both amazed at how much the pain was controlling everything."