Patient Stories

Patient R.K. - Lumbar Fusion

"I began having symptoms with my lower back about five years ago. I had pain in my right hip on a daily basis. I also had a persistent itching on the outside on my right leg and foot. For the eighteen months prior to surgery, I began to have numbness around my waist and even experienced total numbness of both my legs and had trouble urinating.

Dr. Lim explained to me that I had a stenosis or narrowing of my spine which was creating pressure on the nerves of my lower spine. In addition, I had a vertebra that was slipping causing additional pressure on my spine. I decided to have the surgery that Dr Lim recommended, which was decompressing the L4 & L5 area of my spine as well as fusing those two vertebrae together.

I’m happy to report that within a month of my surgery I was walking a mile, three times a day! All of my pain and symptoms are gone. Five months later, I am now walking at least 20 miles per week and swimming a mile at least three times per week.

I couldn’t be happier with the results!"

Patient L.W.T. - Lumbar Discectomy

"I am just a few days out from my 3 month mark and I wanted to share that I feel amazing. I have had zero nerve pain. My incision looks amazing. I want you to know how grateful I feel that I have been given my life back. I am massaging full time and will be opening my own practice in Mid October as well as partnering with a Chiropractor. I am back to riding bikes and hiking and I have even shot a few hoops."

"Previous to my surgery I could not sleep more than 2 hours at a time, could not tie my own shoes, could not bend over to put my own pants on or participate in any of the sports that I relied on to stay fit. Now, three months after my surgery I'm back on the court and my goal is by December to be in shape enough to play pick up games. I'm grateful for the amazing work Dr. Lim performed and for believing in me."

Patient L.M. - Back and Leg Pain

UNC Spine Center patientLee’s back and leg pain started over 20 years ago. Through the years, she sought out medical care that included steroid injections, laminectomy surgery, physical therapy and even a less traditional treatment, acupuncture. Lee felt some temporary relief after her surgery, but the chronic pain of sciatica returned. She sought relief from a combination of NSAIDs and opioid pain medicine. “While walking the dog, I’d go half a block and need to crouch down and curl into a fetal position on the ground to relieve some of the pressure on the nerves,” she recalls.

Lee was losing hope – her pain was not only getting worse, but spreading to both sides of her body. She was referred to a few different specialists, but no one was able to help. She remembers thinking, “I guess this is something I’m just going to have to live with.” 

Having just retired as the Chair of UNC’s Allied Health Department, Lee dreamed of traveling overseas to walk and visit historic sights, but knew she could not enjoy or fully participate in such trips due to her chronic leg pain. While visiting her son in Washington D.C., she rented a mobility scooter to do some limited sightseeing.

Lee’s primary care physician was determined to help and referred her to Dr. Deb Bhowmick, a UNC neurosurgeon. After reviewing an x-ray of Lee’s spine, Dr. Bhowmick was able to quickly identify the cause of her pain. Lee was in need of a fusion treatment for two disks which were rubbing bone on bone.

After careful consideration of the intensive surgery that would be required, Lee decided to proceed. “Dr. Bhowmick was just super all the way through in terms of explaining what he was going to do, how it would work, and what the odds would be for recovery. I was very impressed with him all around.”

A year has passed since Lee’s surgery and her life has changed dramatically. “I can now walk and garden pain-free. I was finally able to take my first river cruise last year and enjoyed hours of sight-seeing on foot through medieval villages in southern France. And, this past week I’ve even been shoveling snow off of my own sidewalk. I have my life back!”

Lee advises patients with similar issues not to give up if physical therapy or other treatments don’t work. “Push to see someone who specializes in your condition.” Lee is happily spreading the word of her amazing recovery within her retirement community to help give hope to others in chronic pain.

Patient A.B. - Lumbar Fusion

"I had back pain for 5 years which was treated with medication therapy and cortizone injections. I exercised regularly with walking and zumba. I was able to handle the pain and manage mobility. Then one day, I ended up in excruciating pain in my lower abdomen and stomach. I was rushed to the local hospital and found out that the only option to relieve my back pain, which was diagnosed as severe arthritis and spinal degeneration, was surgery.

That's when I came to UNC and Dr. Moe Lim came into my life with his awesome team and made my life free of back pain. At the time of my surgery, I was attending school full time and working part time. I didn't lose too much time in my recovery. The surgery was 6 hrs and I was out of bed with the help of a physical therapist within 24, climbing stairs in 48, and home in a little over 72. I have 6 screws and 2 rods in my lower back. I no longer have to take pain meds, and I am back to walking and doing zumba as my general excersize.

I would recommend the UNC Hospitals Spine Center to absolutely everyone in need of surgery or therapy. The staff, the doctors, the anesthesia team and the nurses were absolutely amazing. I was able to finish school in cosmetology on time and still be an awesome nail tech which both require standing and lifting for long periods of time. I definitely thank God and Dr. Moe Lim for all they have done."

Patient H.W. - Lumbar Fusion

"I had been an active runner and swimmer from my twenties until my mid-sixties, when I began to feel serious pain along the backs of my thighs. There was no injury or other obvious cause. The pain soon spread down my legs as far as the soles of my feet and it quickly became very difficult to walk as far as a block or two.

UNC Orthopaedics diagnosed the problem as L4/L5 spondylolisthesis which meant, as I understand it, that my spinal nerves were pinched between a displaced lumbar vertebra and its neighbor. Dr. Moe Lim corrected the problem by removing damaged tissue, creating a larger opening for the nerves, and fusing the affected vertebrae together with screws and a bone graft. The procedure is called ‘fusion and decompression.’

The results were outstanding. My leg pain disappeared immediately, and a few weeks of physical therapy allowed me to resume all my normal activities, including exercise. Today, less than a year later, only some minor stiffness reminds me of my injury. I am deeply grateful to Dr. Lim and UNC Orthopaedics for their excellent work."

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Please call 984-974-4200 to schedule an appointment at the UNC Spine Center. Referrals are not necessary.

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