Active all her life, LaGrange resident Ita Sih is accustomed to a little muscle soreness after exercising. So, last year when her hip began to ache after a bike trip, the 56-year-old mother of five thought nothing of it and assumed her slow recovery was a consequence of aging.
However, the discomfort lingered over the next six months and became very intense during a family hiking trip through Yosemite National Park. Late last year, she was visibly limping after tennis matches and unable to make it through a yoga or Pilates class.
Sih knew she had to do something. “I decided to see a physical therapist. After a few sessions, my pain significantly improved, but I hit a plateau in the healing process,” she said.
Eventually, the pain started to extend down her leg. That’s when Sih, a geriatrician, realized her hip and gluteal pain were most likely symptoms of nerve compression (radiculopathy). Eager to find an excellent spine surgeon, she reached out to her friends, neighbors, and physical therapist—many of whom recommended she make an appointment with Dr. Kern Singh, a minimally invasive spine surgeon at Midwest Orthopaedics at Rush (MOR).
“I had been to MOR for orthopedic injuries in the past and because Dr. Singh came so highly recommended, making an appointment with him was a no-brainer,” Sih says.
During her initial visit, Dr. Singh reviewed her images which revealed injury to lumbar vertebrae three, four, and five. He diagnosed her with degenerative scoliosis and spinal stenosis, which is a tilting of the spine that results in compression of the spinal canal and surrounding nerve roots. He recommended surgery as the best course of treatment.
Shortly thereafter, Dr. Singh performed a minimally invasive, outpatient laminectomy and foraminotomy (decompression procedure to enlarge the passageway for the spinal nerve in the spinal canal). The procedure was muscle-preserving and allowed Sih to avoid a spinal fusion for her scoliosis.
“I was pain-free as soon as I awoke from the surgery and have been ever since. I was shocked how minimally invasive the procedure was and besides some soreness around my two small incisions, I’m back to normal.”
Dr. Singh advised Sih to limit her activity until she begins physical therapy but she often forgets about her restrictions because she feels so good. She fully expects to be able to hit the trail with her family during their backpacking trip through the Dolomites mountain range in Italy this June.