Spinal Surgery Helps Patient Get Back on Her Feet

Spinal Surgery Helps Patient Get Back on Her Feet 

When Ruanne McElroy first started experiencing pain in her left arm in November 2010, she thought it would just “go away” on its own. But no matter what she tried – including sleeping on her right side and switching her purse to her right hand – nothing made her arm feel better.

After Christmas, the pain got progressively worse and stretched from Ruanne’s neck all the way to her thumb. For someone used to an active lifestyle that included three-and-a-half mile walks outdoors, pain like that simply would not do. In January, Ruanne made an appointment with her family physician, George Heenan, MD, of Family Physicians of St. Joseph. Following x-rays and an MRI, Dr. Heenan told Ruanne that she had a tumor in her cervical spine (neck) and discussed treatment options with her. He recommended surgery to remove the tumor and set up an appointment for her to see Dennis Szymanski, MD, of Lakeland Neurosurgery in St. Joseph.

During her appointment, Ruanne said that Dr. Szymanski explained all the details about her situation and made her feel completely comfortable about having surgery. “I was so grateful and appreciative that Dr. Heenan was able to direct me to Dr. Szymanski, who was able to take excellent care of me,” Ruanne said.

Just six days after her meeting with Dr. Szymanski, he performed Ruanne’s surgery to remove the benign tumor at Lakeland Regional Medical Center, St. Joseph. The tumor had been pinching the surrounding nerves in her spine and had caused the pain in her arm.

Following the surgery, Ruanne’s recovery was gradual, although she reported that her left arm felt better “immediately.”

Days after her surgery, Ruanne said she began walking in circles in her basement to build up her strength. By the end of February, she was back to walking a full three-and-a-half miles. “My gratitude toward Dr. Szymanski is immeasurable,” Ruanne said. “I’m me again!”

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