Thursday, 15 February 2007

On February 15th, 2006 I was wheeled into a surgical suite to have the intervertebral disc between the L5 and S1 vertebrae removed and replaced with a three-piece mechanical replacement joint. The Kineflex artificial disc was in FDA trials at the time, so I was a test subject for an all-metal design that was working its way to market. As of the time of this writing, it's still working though the approval process. If my own personal experience is Kineflex - High contrast side viewany indication of what ought to happen, then the Kineflex disc should be approved and shipped to the market as soon as possible. Granted, it's important that the device be used only where appropriate, but for people who today stand in the same shoes I wore up until a year ago, the artificial disc replacement (ADR) is a miracle, and can be a true life gift.

I have 15 degrees range of motion in the L5/S1 joint, which is excellent. My doctor told me at my one-year visit the other day that people with seven degrees or more range of motion are doing very well. So, that's good news. He's also very happy with the level of activity I have been able to take on since the surgery.

It's taken some time for me to get to where I feel pretty much "normal" (whatever that is). Shortly after my surgery I started to feel much much better. As time went on, I realized just how much pain I'd been in. And over the intervening months I have just gotten better and better. A couple weeks ago I went skiing with my friend up at Timberline on Mt. Hood, and was taking some of the smaller jumps without pain and without really even thinking (or at least without being concerned) about the fact that I have this metal contraption in my spine (and that, my friends, is the telling attribute of my experience).

The fact that there are days where I don't even think about my back is amazing. Who would have thought that I could go from being unable to sleep more than an hour or so at a time, and living with constant debilitating pain, to an active and almost pain-free person who can once again do almost anything I want. People who work with me and my friends can tell you how pathetic and practically crippled I was before surgery. Today they say I am a new person. When my doctor told me to go out and live my life, with no real restrictions (but to be sure to take good care of my back), I took him at his word. Nowadays I lift things the "right" way and I'm careful to respect what remains of my natural spine. But mostly I simply don't have to think about it too much.

The surgical procedure for ADR is a serious one, and not one to be taken lightly. Really, everything else should be tried before resorting to surgery of any kind. In my case they did injections, physical therapy, exercises, shrinking the disc in size... you name it. Even just medication. None of the other options helped. So, my choices were fusion of the two vertebrae or a prosthetic artificial disc replacement that was fairly new-fangled (at least in the United States, where many medical technologies actually get to market very late in the game).

I recently received an email from one of the creators of the Kineflex artificial lumbar disc, Malan de Villiers. That was cool, hearing from someone who actually designed the device that has changed my life so dramatically for the good.

I have my life back. That's something to be grateful for.

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Kineflex Artificial Disc Surgery | Personal Stories
Thursday, 15 February 2007 21:06:20 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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Friday, 16 February 2007 18:29:16 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
We've spoken about this before, but let me convey how happy I am for you. While nothing close to yours, I've had a history of back and neck pain and know what am impact those types of injuries have. It's great to hear such a positive story about this, and at the same time, I"m in total amazement that we've advanced so far that we can replace vertebraes with artificial ones. Woah.
Friday, 16 February 2007 20:15:42 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
It almost brings a tear to my eye knowing what this has done for you greg, wait, yep, there it is. I'm very happy to hear you say how well you feel now. Keep up the good work.
Friday, 16 February 2007 20:45:41 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
Thanks guys. It is amazing. We all have our problems in life, and I am lucky that this one could be solved so well!
Friday, 23 February 2007 01:26:02 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
Congratulations on having your life back. I'm a 31-year-old woman facing the possibility of artificial disc replacement with the ProDisc; am in the middle of second and third opinions. I've been searching blogs for personal stories of other folks who have ADR. Yours is an inspiration. Feel free to visit me at I'm always interested in personal stories, etc. And here's to continued good health for you!
Monday, 03 September 2007 07:39:31 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
Hello Greg
My name is linda I just had surgery on 8/23/07. You r story sounds just like mine. I also had the Kineflex it only been 10 days my back feels so much better. The only thing is that I have pain behind my legs.My doctor tells
me it nerves. Did you experience any of this?
LInda Tavakoli
Thursday, 08 November 2007 12:09:48 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
Hi Greg. I had the Kineflex inserted into the same exact area, L-5, S-1 that you did the day before your surgery, Valentine's Day, 2006. I have my life back as well. Unless you have had back pain like we had, no one will ever know the daily pain we endured and how great it feels to indeed, have our lives back. I had two previous surgeries on my back which were both successful but not the cure. My sone, who was 4 at the time of the artificial disc surgery, had to help dress me and my husband had to escort me to bathroom, take care of the bodily needs that I couldn't do myself, as well as roll me over at night in the bed because I couldn't move myself. I have been given a second chance at life and with my son who is now 6 years old. I had been addicted to pain killers to relieve the pain but realized that is was only masking the pain and not curing it. The Kineflex is the best thing, other than my son and husband, that has ever happened to my life. I, like you, was a test study and I am so luck and blessed that I found out about this procedure and was a candidate. I know go roller skating, I jump around with my son and I live life to the fullest and I hope you can keep on doing the same. Best of luck to us.
Wednesday, 03 December 2008 07:28:33 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
Hello, I am 26 year old female that was in a horrible car accident that should of ended my life but by the grace of God I walked away from it with just a back injury. My accident was in 2005, I was in so much pain that it took over my life! I was eating pain medication by the hand full and did just about everything I could do to stay away from surgery. I tried PT, epidural injections, accupucture, and I also tried a less invasive surgery called L5/S1 micro discectomy. None of it worked for me, and I was at my end. My amazing surgeon in San Diego named Dr. Timothy Peppers at Core Ortho. talked to me about this artificial disc and I said "sign me up"! July 27, 2007 I was a lucky canidate of this Kineflex artifical disc. Today, I have my life back it took me awhile to get out of the surgery pain from them going in through my belly and I still have some muscle pain but I am so happy I was blessed with this surgery. I do not know what I would be doing right now if I still had that pain. It really did take my life and now I have it back and have a different look on life. I am still upset at the small disability I do still have at the age of 26 but I know that it could of been worse. Thank you for posting your experience on this disc it really helps me to hear that I am not the only one with a bionic back!
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