Lauren Butler, a young woman from Ohio, was able to get her life back after a martial arts injury left her suffering with chronic pain and limited mobility. It all started in a Taekwondo class in college, when Lauren was paired up against a young man in the class who was a foot taller than her. With just one kick, Lauren was thrown across the floor, causing her to blackout and bringing her to tears. According to Lauren, “That incident was the start of a three-year nightmare.”
Following the initial months after the incident, Lauren was prescribed pain pills for whiplash, which is a neck injury that can occur due to a sudden backward and forward movement of the neck. Although the medications relieved some of her pain, Lauren’s condition was far from healed.
When it became clear that whiplash was not Lauren’s main problem, she sought out all kinds of treatment options to alleviate her symptoms, from massage and physical therapy to neck injections. After a year-long authorization process, Lauren finally got approved for an MRI. The results of the test revealed that she would need surgery to fix the misaligned discs in her neck, and that she was also naturally born with two fused vertebrates.
Within just one year, Lauren underwent two separate surgeries to fuse two different levels of vertebrae in her neck. Following her surgical procedures, Lauren experienced numbness in her arm whenever she ran or turned her head. She also had a limited range of motion in her neck and still had significant pain, excruciating headaches, and trouble sleeping. Lauren said, “It just hurt all the time.”
Two years ago marked a turning point in Lauren’s journey to seek treatment when she moved from Ohio to Anaheim, California, for work. While in California, Lauren found Dr. Hooman Melamed, an orthopedic spinal surgeon based in Marina del Rey. Dr. Melamed was absolutely shocked after reviewing her case. He explains, “My jaw dropped. I was like, wow. There was like one sheet of bone, basically.”
Since humans only have seven neck vertebrae, another neck fusion was out of the question. Dr. Melamed noted, “She’s already miserable, and she would have been in just a lifetime of permanent pain, disability, limited motion, unable to have a normal life.”
Upon seeing how unhappy Lauren was with her condition, Dr. Melamed proposed a surgery that had never been done before. This surgery would aim to recreate the natural anatomy of her neck by breaking apart Lauren’s fusions and placing artificial discs between each vertebrate.
However, this procedure required exact precision as it would transpire just a millimeter away from the vertebral artery, one of the primary arteries that go into our brains.
Despite the considerable risk the surgery posed, Lauren agreed to the procedure, and Dr. Melamed successfully completed the procedure. Dr. Melamed said, “I was beyond thrilled. It was the best feeling.”
After the surgery, Lauren was entirely pain-free. She said, “I’m really happy with the results. I have not had any neck pain or like stabbing down my arm. I am able to work out and go on hikes, and I don’t get terrible headaches. I can sleep normally, and I got my full range of motion back like I can go up and down; everything is normal. I don’t even know what could have happened if I didn’t find Dr. Melamed. I’m so happy I found him.”
To learn more about Lauren’s remarkable new lease on life, check out her journey featured on Daily Mail.
At The Spine Pro, Dr. Melamed takes an integrative and holistic approach to medicine, with a focus on lifestyle and nutrition, without prescribing narcotics. If you currently suffer from chronic neck or back pain, and conservative treatments or previous procedures have not provided relief, contact Dr. Melamed today.