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Karen's Spine Story

Karen is a 70-year-old retired nurse who lived with neck and arm pain for over 35 years. After a life changing surgery with Dr. Schwender, she is no longer in pain and is now swimming and playing pickleball 6 to 8 hours every week! Here is her story:

"I just turned 70, oh how time flies! I spent from my 30's until August of 2021 in pain. I got thrown from a horse and fractured my hip socket on a Saturday and the doctor called on Monday after he read the Saturday x-ray asking if I was off my left leg, and I said no I’m walking around. I’ve found I have a high pain tolerance! He put me in a wheelchair for 8 weeks. I cross country skied most winter days and one day fell down an icy hill, but all checked out okay at the doctor. Another time I was grabbed by a large, tall patient and taken to the ground. My neck and back felt like ants crawling all over but doctor said I was fine.

I’m an RN. I went to various doctors for neck and arm pain. Over the years I have had carpal tunnel and ulnar surgery on both my right and left sides. I had steroid injection via catheter into my spine for a frozen neck that I couldn’t move. This had to be repeated as my neck was still locked a week later. I knew something was not right, but doctors would tell me it was in my head. I tried to learn to live with it giving up snowmobiling, sports amusement park rides with kids and grandkids etc. When I couldn’t sleep for three days due to the pain, I told doctors they had to do something.

By this time, I’m retired, and I live between MN and AZ. I researched and found Nova Spine in AZ and Twin Cities Spine in MN. I self-referred. I started RFAs and finally had some pain relief. The first one lasted a year and the second and third each about six months. I wasn’t fond the massive doses of Motrin which was the only thing that helped. As the RFAs weren’t working I scheduled surgery.

I was nervous and scared and remember my wonderful nurse who prayed with me before surgery, which I’m forever grateful as that calmed my fears. I remember waking up from surgery and Dr Schwender popped his head in and all I could say is the pain was gone! The surgical site pain was nothing compared to the spinal pain I had been living with. Well, there WAS something wrong with my neck after all. The sixth vertebrae and three discs were removed, and hardware was installed by Dr Schwender's skilled hands. I’m surprised my neck mobility is so good. I do have occasional light pressure feeling down my upper arms kind of like when I first had problems in my 30's, but I can play 6-8 hours of Pickleball a week, swim and enjoy things that my neck use to put limits on."

Thanks again! Karen