Walking Away from Pain
Every day, Judy Rutledge and her dog walked four to five miles through her pastoral neighborhood in Forestell, Missouri. She had always found great joy in leading an active lifestyle. So when Judy began experiencing severe back pain, she was determined not to let it slow her down.
Judy’s pain developed shortly after having open heart surgery. Before then, she had no back pain to speak of — though she had a knee replacement years prior. This led Judy to Mark Belew, MD, an orthopedic surgeon at Christian Hospital, whom she visited with a few times a year. Judy described her back pain to Dr. Belew, and he referred her to Chris Beuer, MD, a pain management specialist and medical director of the Pain Management Center at Christian Hospital.
“I was walking all bent over and was in so much pain,” says Judy. “It was very debilitating.” Trusting Dr. Belew and the care she had received previously at Christian Hospital, Judy scheduled an appointment with Dr. Beuer. He diagnosed her with spinal stenosis, a condition in which a narrowing of the spinal canal compresses the spinal cord nerves in the lower back, resulting in pain, numbness or tingling. In Judy’s case, she experienced pain when walking and standing which improved when sitting or lying down. This made her a prime candidate for Mild®, or Minimally Invasive Lumbar Decompression, an innovative FDA-cleared procedure that removes excess tissue causing the narrowing of the spinal canal.
“Mild® is a minimally invasive alternative to spine surgery. While it isn’t a total cure, it can provide substantial functional improvement, improving standing tolerance, walking distance and the level of comfort when doing both of those things,” says Dr. Beuer. “It’s an outpatient procedure, where patients can walk in and walk out with immediate results.”
In fall 2019, Judy underwent the Mild® procedure. “I immediately felt better,” says Judy.
“Coupled with physical therapy, I now have more stamina and far less pain. I can stand longer and walk farther.” She was also impressed with the speediness of the procedure and the care she was provided by the team. In addition to keeping up her walking, Judy has returned to her normal activities, enjoying time with her husband, Richard, fishing and playing music together.
“I’m thrilled to see Judy doing so well and out living her life,” says Dr. Beuer. Results like Judy’s are not out of the ordinary, with a majority of patients reporting a dramatic improvement in their quality of life. Mild® is still a relatively new procedure, and Dr. Beuer and his team are proud to be one of the few places offering it in the region. “This fills a void for people like Judy who really didn’t have any other options. Everyone should have the opportunity to avoid surgery, improve function and live their life,” says Dr. Beuer. “To see outcomes like these … it’s just very rewarding.”
To learn more about the Pain Management Center or to schedule an appointment with Dr. Beuer, call 314.747.WELL (9355).