Spinal Fusion at Fort Sanders Regional Helps Patient Get Her Life Back
After a busy morning of cleaning kitchen cabinets in her Washington County home, Jane Gambrell sits down to rest for just a moment. Taking a break is nice, but she won’t complain about working.
Gambrell, 79, remembers a time when pain kept her off her feet. “All I did was lay on the couch with a heating pad,” Gambrell says. “I couldn’t do anything because I was in so much pain.”
Managing her pain with pills and patches, Gambrell says she reached a point where she felt she had no quality of life.
“Every time I would try to get up, it was like a thousand nails in each of my hips,” Gambrell says. “It was so painful.”
Assuming she needed a hip replacement, Gambrell make an appointment with an orthopedic doctor near her in Johnson City. The doctor recommended Gambrell see a Knoxville surgeon, who in turn recommended Daniel Benjamin Wells, MD, a surgeon at Fort Sanders Regional Medical Center.
Dr. Wells explained that the hip pain she was experiencing was actually the result of another problem in her spine.
“Often nerve root compression in the spine presents as leg pain, and it can be confused with hip and knee pain,” Dr. Wells says. “At times it can be difficult to discern between the two, and sometimes even the best physicians confuse the diagnoses.”
Dr. Wells performed a spinal fusion in Dec. 2019. After rehabilitation and physical therapy, Gambrell is living the kind of independent life she had just about given up on.
“I do my own housework — I can run a vacuum cleaner, dust, mop, I’ve got flowers and I go out and work on them,” Gambrell says. “I’ve got my life back.”
As dramatic and life-changing as the procedure has been for Gambrell, Dr. Wells says her story is not unusual.
“I have treated many patients throughout my career who have thought or been told they have a hip or knee problem, when in fact, they have a spine problem,” Dr. Wells says. “I have even seen patients who have undergone hip and knee replacements and still have pain in their knee or hip because the pain is actually coming from their back.”
Relief is a reality for Gambrell, who no longer needs pills or patches to mask the pain that used to hold her back.
“I thank the Lord every day!” she says joyfully.