About three years ago, Kim Frasch of Tellico, now 65, had pain in both of his calves. Over time, it moved upward and became more intense.
“As it got worse, it went into my thighs and glutes. And finally I began to lean to the left as an involuntary effort to gain some relief,” Frasch said. “My wife was worried I couldn’t stand up straight. I had sharp, stabbing pains in my legs, and standing was intolerable. I could only walk for a short period of time.”
Frasch had spinal stenosis, a fairly common condition in which the spinal canal narrows. The bones of the vertebrae compress the spine and surrounding nerves, typically in the lower back. This creates pain, numbness and weakness in the legs and feet.
Spinal stenosis typically comes on slowly and gets worse over time, most often affecting people over the age of 50.
“Apparently, I had it for years. This is a very slow process,” said Frasch. “They said I’d had it for years and years, but it just never manifested itself.”
Frasch is a business consultant in the medical field, so he did plenty of Internet research about the condition to find an area physician who could help him.
Frasch consulted one surgeon, but didn’t quite feel comfortable. He then went for a second opinion to Dr. Patrick Bolt of Fort Sanders Regional Medical Center. He liked what he experienced.
“The people are upbeat and work well together there,” Frasch said. “I have visited practices and other health care entities all over the country. I can walk into a business and tell if it is working well or needs better management. It’s one thing to entrust your care to the surgeon, but his staff has to be happy and supportive. I’m very happy to say Dr. Bolt was the right choice.”
At first, Dr. Bolt recommended the first-line treatments of physical therapy and steroid injections on Mr. Frasch, but those gave little relief from the pain. At that point, Dr. Bolt recommended the only permanent solution – surgery to widen and stabilize the spinal canal.
Frasch underwent corrective spine surgery at Fort Sanders Regional on March 11.
During the procedure, Dr. Bolt removed arthritis and bone spurs from inside Mr. Frasch’s fourth and fifth lumbar vertebrae, and then fused the two together using a bone graft and screws. Dr. Bolt did all that with minimally invasive techniques, making four smaller incisions instead of one larger one.
As soon as he woke up, Mr. Frasch said he immediately felt relief.
“I came out of surgery after five hours, and they said, ‘Would you like to get up?’ And I said, ‘You bet.’ I got up and walked, and I was literally freely stepping, no leg pain whatsoever, tears of joy running down my face!”
Frasch said he was home in two days and has walked every day since then for therapy. “Today I’m wearing my brace, and yes, I do have site pain, but it’s not such that I need to take any medication for it.”
Frasch said he would recommend Dr. Bolt, Fort Sanders and their support staff to anyone facing back surgery.
“You’ve got to do the work, but if you do it, your results can be stellar. I gave my caregivers five stars,” Frasch said of Fort Sanders. “When I pushed my button and needed something, I got it, from the day I arrived right through discharge.”
“This is what we’re striving for in health care in this country, and I can’t say enough good about Dr. Bolt’s team. I was cared for properly. I got my life back.”