CrossFitter back to workouts after CDR procedure

Radka Superson, 45, is an active mom to four children who recently moved with her husband and their family from Chicago to Grand Rapids, MI. She loves being closer to their Michigan lake house and having more open space to walk the family’s dog.

Sleeping comfortably at night, performing CrossFit workouts, and playing pickleball were all things she naturally took for granted. That is until she experienced strange sensations in her shoulder, hands, and leg, which made doing these normal activities difficult.

Odd body sensations were alarming

“I started getting tingling and numbness in my shoulder and I thought I had done something to it from walking the dog,” Superson explains.

She went to physical therapy and was prescribed a regimen of shoulder exercises. However, very quickly the same odd feelings began again in both hands followed by pain down her leg when she bent over. Doing very simple movements like picking something up from the floor became difficult.

“I knew something wasn’t right,” she says. “And that this wasn’t just about my shoulder.”

Shortly thereafter, she described her symptoms to a friend who works in orthopedics. He suspected that her discomfort was related to a spinal condition, and he encouraged her to get an MRI right away.

“I couldn’t believe we were talking about an MRI,” Superson says. “But I went ahead and got one.”

A local provider ordered and then reviewed the MRI results with her. He explained that the imaging clearly showed disc herniation in Superson’s cervical spine (neck) causing pressure on the spinal cord in the center of her spinal column. He recommended spine surgery but couldn’t assure Superson that her symptoms would be gone.

A good friend referred her to Dr. Matthew Colman, a spine surgeon at Midwest Orthopaedics at RUSH.

Perfect candidate for cervical disc replacement

“When I met Radka, I explained to her that when a patient is experiencing numbness, pain, weakness, and dexterity problems in the hands or arms, we take that very seriously,” says Dr. Colman. “A simple pinched nerve may cause some of these symptoms, but when the entire spinal cord is compressed, it’s a different situation. Our goal is the preservation of hand and walking function, and so the urgency to treat a problem like Radka’s was higher than other situations.”

He recommended she consider a cervical disc replacement (CDR) and carefully explained why.

Cervical discs are the cushions between the vertebrae of the neck. They function like shock absorbers which allow the neck to move freely. The cervical spine forms a protective tunnel for the upper part of the spinal cord to pass through, supplying the upper body with sensation and movement. This is what causes upper extremity tingling and numbness.

In a cervical disc replacement surgery, a spine physician removes the diseased or damaged disc and replaces it with an artificial disc allowing for an almost complete, natural range of motion. Prior to the approval of the CDR procedure, the vertebrae above and below the affected disc were fused together which removes motion from that segment of the neck.

“The beauty of cervical disc replacement is that it is minimally invasive, comes with a relatively easy recovery, and the implant that is used to rebuild the disc preserves motion,” Dr. Colman explains. “So, pain and neurologic outcomes are excellent, and patients get to keep their natural motion. CDR also cuts down on the rate of adjacent segment disease, or breakdown of discs above or below the treated level, which is commonly seen after fusion surgery.”

Superson did some additional research on the CDR procedure and felt certain that it was the best route to take for a pain-free, active life going forward.

“I was scared because I’ve never had surgery of any kind,” Superson explains. “But I felt instantly reassured and comfortable with Dr. Colman. He thoroughly explained the procedure and worked with me to get it done around my busy life.”

CDR was the right choice

Since she felt ready, she scheduled her surgery with Dr. Colman at RUSH. Immediately following the 45-minute procedure, she had no shoulder pain, no leg pain and just a tiny amount of tingling in one hand. She went home the same day with no pain medication at all.

“I still don’t know how this is possible,” Superson says. “I am totally out of pain and can turn my neck!”

Today, she is sleeping through the night, walking, bending and most importantly can relax knowing that she is free from pain. She is back to difficult CrossFit workouts five days a week and pickle ball with friends three days a week.

“I can’t recommend this procedure enough, “she says. “And, with Dr. Colman, you can just see the joy he gets from helping people get their active lives back.”

To schedule an appointment to discuss your spine condition with Dr. Matthew Colman, please visit or call 877-632-6637.