Back outdoors with Dr. Craig Humphreys

Diagnosis:  Severe spinal stenosis with bilateral leg pain
Treatment:  Decompressive laminectomy and foraminotomy

For the past seven years, Frank and his wife Deborah have operated a popular brewery and bar in Alaska. For Frank, work in the brewery often involved some heavy lifting and a lot of standing.

Frank first noticed an onset of low back pain several years ago. He first thought the pain symptoms were simply the result of his work and active outdoor lifestyle in Alaska, which included frequent fishing trips. As the years went by, however, Frank noticed his back pain worsen to the point he felt weakness and numbness in his left leg.

“This January it became so bad that my left leg pretty much stopped functioning,” notes Frank. “I had a lot of numbness in my left leg and it scared me a lot.”

His physician referred him to Dr. Craig Humphreys. At the spine center, diagnostic tests revealed that Frank had spinal stenosis, which is a narrowing of the spinal canal that can commonly occur as one ages. Unfortunately, the non-surgical treatment options for stenosis are limited as bone crimps the nerves in the spinal canal.

“Any time we see numbness or weakness in a leg or arm, these are very serious symptoms,” explains Dr. Humphreys, who did the corrective surgery of a decompressive laminectomy and foraminotomy to enlarge the narrowed canal and relieve the symptoms. “Numbness and weakness typically means the nerve root is being crimped, and left untreated, Frank could have permanent numbness in his leg which would affect his ability to walk.”

Fortunately, the necessary surgery is fairly simple and the results can be dramatic relief of pain, numbness and weakness. “From the first visit, Dr. Humphreys and the entire team have been great,” Frank remembers. “He is an incredibly on-time person in the clinic, and I never had to wait. He made sure everything was right. My pain is now almost nil. I’m able to walk places and distances that I was unable to walk over the past couple of years. 

“Dr. Humphreys and his staff have been so exceptional. With Dr. Humphreys and his staff, there’s no hurry. If I have anything that I want to discuss further, they take the time to make sure that I am taken care of.”

Frank is now back on the job —  and back to fishing for recreation.

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