Barbara Connolly square


Mar 2, 2022

Daily back pain to lasting relief

I was in pain every single day," says Barbara Connolly. But "now I'm euphoric to be rid of my daily pain."

Barbara Connolly saw a physical therapist for one issue and ended up with an entirely new problem. While being treated for urinary difficulties, her therapist pinched a nerve in her back. For the next year of her life, she lived with pain on a daily basis. She would wake up in the mornings and feel a wave of pain rush throughout her whole body that lasted several hours. She relied on Tylenol, Aleve, and trips to a chiropractor multiple times a week just to tolerate the pain.

After months and months of dealing with the constant cycle of pain, Barbara realized that she needed to see a specialist. She went to see a surgeon who suggested she have surgery immediately. Barbara was not confident in the surgeon's suggestion and decided to seek a second opinion. This is how she met Semmes Murphey Clinic Neurosurgeon Dr. Kyle Smith. Dr. Smith recommended taking a more conservative approach. Given the fact that Barbara was close to 80 years old at the time, Dr. Smith decided to first order a bone density scan to make sure she was a viable spinal fusion surgery candidate.

"Mrs. Connolly had a relatively straightforward and common spine problem called lumbar spondylolisthesis (or "slip). Nerve decompression and fusion were clearly going to give her relief," said Dr. Smith. "But the bone scan complicated things. It showed that she had slight osteoporosis (soft bone).

Dr Smith smiling 12 X9

The questionable results prompted him to prescribe a 3-month course of bone density injections before he would even consider surgery. "The injections, unfortunately, delayed the surgery but increased the likelihood of a successful outcome," said Dr. Smith

After the 3-month regimen of injections, Barbara's bones had grown stronger, and Dr. Smith determined she could now handle surgery. He booked her for the first available operating room for the spinal fusion.

Everything about the surgery was a positive experience. Barbara explained that "the experience was very positive – wonderful nurses, anesthetist, staff – all very helpful, caring, and reassuring throughout the entire procedure."

"I was flattered that she had confidence in me as a second opinion. I encourage patients, in general, to seek a second opinion if needed. You should be comfortable in your choice of surgeon and your treatment plan. Seeing eye-to-eye on the diagnosis and treatment plan ideally makes the post-op outcome much more positive," said Smith.

"Dr. Smith is a very knowledgeable and caring surgeon," says Barbara. She explained that he took the time to answer her questions and relieve her concerns. He made sure she understood what was happening to her body and the surgical process. She said that she never felt rushed during their conversations.

Barbara is now rid of her daily back pain and has gained a friend in Dr. Smith. "It has given me a new lease on life, and I am so thankful to have found Dr. Smith!"

Dr. Smith weighed in on her progress," Mrs. Connolly has been doing great since the morning after her surgery. She couldn't wait to leave the hospital and basically used Tylenol since then for pain control. I truly enjoy every follow-up visit since surgery. It's extremely rewarding to see such a positive change in a patient's quality of life as a result of surgery."