For several years, Bob Leja, 62, of Joliet got a strange tingling feeling in his right arm and sometimes the limb would go numb. He routinely stopped what he was doing, like driving, and shook it out. For a time, that seemed to ease the discomfort and he went about his work and home life.
Eventually, the feeling also became painful. It began to affect the performance of his job in the warehouse of a printing company where he pushed and pulled skids of paper, loaded and unloaded truckloads of heavy boxes. It also affected his ability to play catch with his grandchildren and get a good night’s sleep.
Fed up with pain and discomfort
Determined to get some answers and relief, Leja visited a local physician who examined him and explained that he was probably experiencing arthritis somewhere in his arm. However, as the pain worsened, Leja sought more advice and was diagnosed with two degenerated discs in his neck. The soft tissue between his discs was virtually gone and the bones of his cervical (neck) spine were pressing on the nerve connected to his right arm.
Surgery to fuse the bones in his neck was recommended.
Before undergoing surgery, Leja researched the best surgeons performing cervical spine surgery in the area. He discovered Dr. Arash Sayari of Midwest Orthopaedics at RUSH and was pleased to see that he had an office in Joliet.
“I was scared to have spine surgery, but Dr. Sayari made me feel comfortable right away," — Bob Leja
“I was scared to have spine surgery, but Dr. Sayari made me feel comfortable right away," Leja explains. “He also surprised me by explaining the benefits of cervical disc replacement surgery versus spinal fusion and was very confident disc replacement would be my best option.”
Cervical disc replacement option
Cervical disc replacement, performed by specially trained spinal surgeons, is a newer treatment option for patients with degenerative disce disease in the neck, or cervical spine. Unlike fusion surgery, it allows for a completely natural range of motion in the neck and eliminates pain. It can also slow down degeneration at the other levels in the neck.
“Bob was a great candidate for a cervical disc replacement,” explains Dr. Sayari. “He had minimal arthritis and an MRI that showed a pinched nerve causing his neck and arm problems. We were able to clean out the arthritis and ‘unpinch’ the nerve, allowing for complete resolution of his symptoms. I chose a disc replacement tailored to his anatomy, which allowed for improved range of motion.”
Pain and discomfort gone
“I now have incredible relief,” Leja says. “Almost immediately, my arm was fully functioning, and I didn’t wake up every 30-45 minutes at night anymore. The best part is, I have no discomfort at work, and I can play ball with all my grandchildren.”