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After a Total Disc Replacement, an HSS Patient Resumes His Life Pain Free

As a commercial painter and cleaner, William Humphrey’s livelihood depends on his physical endurance and agility.

Sometimes this has meant returning to work before an injury is entirely healed, which was the case 13 years ago, after he strained his back. As a result, William ended up with chronic back pain and sought relief through the care of a chiropractor. Although these treatments helped, as soon as he resumed his full workload, the pain returned.

As the years continued, William tried acupuncture, physical therapy and always had an ice pack and heating pad handy. Unfortunately, the pain never disappeared completely.

Eventually, William sought the help of the specialists at Hospital for Special Surgery. Recalls William, “My sister, who had recently undergone back surgery, said ‘If you are going to consider surgery, see the best.’” 

At HSS, spine surgeon Frank P. Cammisa Jr., MD evaluated William. “I learned that a disc in my back was extremely deteriorated,” recalls William. Dr. Cammisa recommended that William undergo total disc replacement surgery, which involved replacing the diseased disc with an artificial prosthesis.

Four days following the surgery, William, returned home to recuperate. “A week and a half later, I had no pain whatsoever,” recalls William. “I could bend without discomfort; I could fall asleep without pain. I didn’t realize how much pain had taken over my life.”

Four months following the surgery, William returned to work, where he climbs up ladders 20-30 feet in the air, carries cases of paint, and rolls out ceilings. “I go up and down four to five flights of stairs six times a day,” he explains. Now that he is feeling so much better, he has the energy and energy to spend time with his family and to pursue other interests. William has expanded his flower and vegetable garden, since bending down to plant and weed now feels relaxing rather than painful.

Best of all for William, however, is having the chance to play with his son, Ryan. “Now I can have fun with my son, tossing baseballs and horsing around. The disc replacement has changed my life.”

William Humphrey