In a photo featured on his company website, Thom Serafin is shown leaping to catch a baseball at Guaranteed Rate Field, home to the Chicago White Sox, with the caption: “Nothing’s out of reach when you have the right team.”
Over a two-year period, Serafin found more and more activities out of his reach due to chronic debilitating back pain. It had radiated down his lower back to his legs and numbed his feet. The pain made walking short distances difficult, and he wasn’t able to stand for more than a few minutes at a time.
Serafin had always been active, he worked out regularly, ran a thriving business and appeared on television as a political analyst. It was frustrating for him to live with life-altering limitations.
Serafin tried physical therapy and spinal injections, that resulted in little relief for many months. He finally turned to Dr. Nikhil Verma of Midwest Orthopedics at Rush, who had performed successful surgery on his son’s shoulder after a football injury.
Verma recommended that Serafin consult his partner Dr. Kern Singh, a spine, back and neck surgeon with an international reputation in minimally invasive spinal surgery. After meeting with and evaluating Serafin, Singh diagnosed him with two degenerated discs resulting in a curvature of the spine and stenosis (excess bone growth) leading to nerve compression.
Singh explained that Serafin’s pain would never be alleviated until the basic structural problems in his spine were repaired with surgery.
Serafin agreed to proceed with surgery and in early August, Singh performed a minimally invasive two-level lumbar fusion that required only five small incisions, the size of Serafin’s fingertip. It straightened his spinal curvature with titanium rods and removed the bone spurs that were causing nerve compression.
“Compared to traditional spinal surgery,” Singh explains, “The minimally invasive approach causes little to no bleeding and a much shorter recovery time.”
“Dr. Singh is a rock star,” Serafin says. “To be able to simply go about my day and live a pain-free life? That’s something to be truly thankful for.”
Three months after surgery, Serafin’s pain is gone and he is rebuilding his strength and flexibility with workouts and physical therapy. He is looking forward to hiking, swimming, horseback riding and playing catch with his son.