There are maybe few things more debilitating than chronic back and neck pain. That was certainly the case for Krista Pruitt, who for years suffered from back pain so intense it affected every area of her life.
After her first surgery in 2001 for a herniation in her back, Pruitt was doing well for nearly eight years until one day at work she began to feel some discomfort, almost as if she had bruised her tailbone. From there, her back pain intensified and got progressively worse.
Anxious about undergoing spinal fusion surgery, Pruitt managed her pain for nearly six years through physical therapy and injections, until a car accident pushed her past the limit. That’s when she discovered the Center for Disc Replacement at Texas Health Center for Diagnostics and Surgery.
Artificial disc replacement is a motion preservation spinal surgical procedure that offers an alternative to fusion surgery. Patients who opt for the procedure often benefit from a greater range of motion, shorter recovery time, and less stress on adjacent discs —up to 1/3 less, according to Texas Health Center for Diagnostics and Surgery.
Not everyone is a candidate for artificial disc replacement, and anyone who's considering it should seek a consultation sooner rather than later. It's tempting to put off back surgery, but if a patient waits too long then his or her chances of the pre-existing damage being too great increase.
At the point when Pruitt sought out Dr. Richard Guyer, co-medical director at the Center for Disc Replacement, she was suffering from not just pain but also an extremely lowered quality of life. The outgoing, 47-year-old SMU employee loved to host events, shop, and cook, but instead she found herself working from home, in bed, unable to cook dinners or do basic household chores. She also felt depressed, as if she was failing at being a mother and partner.
"I would not be where I am today without Dr. Guyer and the team at the Center for Disc Replacement," Pruitt says. "Disc replacement was a true gift."
While recovery from the surgery had some challenges, she says what kept her going was knowing that there was a light at the end of the tunnel — and the center's incredible recovery therapists. After four months of hard work, Pruitt hit what she calls her "sweet spot," and knew for certain that this was the best decision she could have ever made.
Today she is finally feeling like herself again. She is socializing with friends and cooking constantly — she's even lost weight, since she can exercise again — and feels strong enough to do things she previously had never thought possible, like painting her fireplace.
"I'm able to live my life out in the world again," she says. "It's the best I have felt in 10 years, and I hope to inspire others who may be feeling like they are in a dark place with their pain. But if you do the hard work, it will pay off."
To find out more about artificial disc replacement, visit the Texas Health Center for Disc Replacement's website or call 844-544-9501.