Back pain can be debilitating at any stage of life, but for 22-year-old Morgan Bolton it felt not only debilitating, but isolating. Her pain was so intense that she was struggling to participate in activities with her friends and family.
Bolton first began experiencing back pain when she was growing up in Indiana. Five years ago when her family moved to Texas, her pain really began to escalate, so much so that she started receiving steroid injections to ease the pain.
"That didn’t do anything," Bolton remembers. At this point, she was finding her basic, daily activities to be a challenge. Things she loved, like working out and hiking, were off the table because of her intense pain. Even less strenuous activities — such as relaxing at the beach with friends or sitting through class — were becoming increasingly difficult.
With the steroids not helping and the quality of her life decreasing, Bolton turned to surgery. She elected to have a discectomy, which removed part of her disc, but shortly after the operation the disc herniated again and her health began to decline rapidly. She was told a spinal fusion would be her only option.
That's when her mom began reading about alternative procedures and discovered artificial disc replacement and Dr. Scott Blumenthal with The Center for Disc Replacement at Texas Health Center for Diagnostics and Surgery.
This spinal surgical procedure for motion preservation offers an alternative to fusion surgery. Dr. Blumenthal explained that patients who opt for the procedure often benefit from less stress on adjacent discs and shorter recovery time. More importantly for Bolton, the disc replacement would allow her greater range of motion and a lower risk of needing additional spinal surgery in the future.
"Sure enough, it did," says Bolton. After the surgery, and after about six months of recovery that included heavy physical therapy, she says her once narrow life finally feels limitless again. She's not only been able to resume her normal activities, but now she's even trying new things like Orangetheory classes, where she feels totally comfortable using the rowing machines and lifting weights.
"The only thing I have to do is see the doctor once a year to make sure everything is OK," she says. "It feels so good to have my life back."