• Dr. Knight has Farmer's Back

    Orthopedics

    May 29, 2018

    “I’M always  farming,”  says Jack Gillen, 50, of Schuyler. “If I’m not farming, I’m doing hay for different people, throwing bales of hay and everything.”

    Gillen recently had minimally invasive back surgery, which allows him to keep doing what he loves best—farming. He had experienced worsening back pain when a slip and fall four years ago resulted in three herniated disks.

    The pain, over time, had gotten worse—to the point where Gillen couldn’t stand it anymore. “I couldn’t pick up a bale of hay and throw it. I couldn’t bend down a certain way, and sometimes I had to walk with a cane because I couldn’t walk that good,” he says.

    Just walking and going up or down stairs was difficult. Gillen used a variety of conservative measures to relieve his pain. “I took ibuprofen, Tylenol, Motrin; I put ice on my back, heating pads. Nothing worked.”

    His doctor referred him to Reginald Knight, MD, an orthopedic surgeon at Bassett Healthcare Network and director of Bassett Spine Care Institute, who recommended a trial of injections in his back. The injections eased the pain for about a month, but the pain would always return.


    Finding Relief

    At that point, Dr. Knight offered mini- mally invasive surgery as a next step, but Gillen wanted to warm up to the idea. He tried physical therapy first, which eased his back pain a little but not enough to help him get through his day at the farm. So Gillen agreed to minimally invasive surgery.

    “My surgery was at 11 a.m. and I was back home at the farm at 5 o’clock the same day,” he says. Gillen had a four-week recovery period and completed physical therapy exercises. “Now the only exercise I get is going down the stairs, walking through the barn and doing my routine in the barn,” he says.

    During the recovery he was pain- free. He continues to be pain-free and is back working from early morn- ing to late evening on the farm. He also looks forward to getting back on his bicycle. “It’s good exercise. I used to travel from Little Falls to Herkimer three times a day,” he says. His advice for others with back pain? “I’d recommend Dr. Knight,” Gillen says. “He’s a good surgeon— and a good guy too!”
     

    Positive outcomes

    “Minimally invasive spine surgery is used primarily because we want to reduce the amount of patient pain and suffering and reduce the amount of soft tissue disruption, meaning it’s less traumatic to the bone and to the muscles during the operation,” says Reginald Knight, MD.

    “We have a spine care registry where we monitor patient-reported functional outcomes to allow us to assess whether or not the procedure we have done for the patient has truly affected their life in a positive manner. We have had thousands of patients in the registry since it began in 2010. So I feel very comfortable in saying that, by and large, most patients can be treated minimally invasively.”