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Published on April 09, 2018

Spinal Surgery Gave Shirley Her Life Back

Spine Surgery

Shirley Coble had been seeing a chiropractor for years to treat her back pain, and it helped for a while. As she got older though, the pain only got worse and she noticed her back was curving further and further forward. By December 2015, it was so painful that she could no longer lie down in her bed or stand up straight without severe pain. Shirley stopped driving the following January because it was too painful to sit and it was difficult for her to walk even short distances. The only way she was able to sleep was for three hours at a time, in a chair, bent over with a pillow on her knees.

Complex spinal deformities like Shirley’s can significantly impact a person’s quality of life. By the time Shirley saw Dr. Stern, her spine had curved so much that she needed to have three surgeries to correct scoliosis that had developed over time.

Shirley had all three spinal surgeries in April 2016 and was in the hospital for about six days. She doesn’t remember much of her stay, but from the moment she woke up she felt immediate relief. While she experienced the pain that comes with recovery, she could now lie down in a bed without being in the same terrible pain she’d felt before. She slowly built up her strength over the next two months, and now it feels like she has her life back! She can stand up straight, lie down, walk and drive without pain. Shirley hasn’t needed pain medication since the July after her surgery and she feels great. Most people shrink as they age, but with Dr. Stern’s help, Shirley grew two inches.

Joseph Stern, MD, is a neurosurgeon at Carolina Neurosurgery & Spine Associates and member of Cone Health medical staff. Shirley Coble, a local patient, joined Dr. Stern to discuss her health journey.

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