Patient Story

Blessed relief after years of back pain

January 3, 2020

Joy had suffered from lower back pain for more than a decade.

Photo of Joy

“I hadn’t realized how much pain was showing on my face,” said Joy Marshall from Murfreesboro. “My husband and daughter saw a physical change in me right after my surgery.”

Joy had suffered from lower back pain for more than a decade. Arthritis was the main problem, but a car accident made it almost impossible for her to function.

“I had extreme pain just getting in and out of bed,” said Joy. “Pushing a grocery cart was almost impossible. I’d just have to grit my teeth. Sometimes I’d leave it at the end of each aisle and go get what I needed.”

She had tried pain medications, injections and physical therapy, but nothing seemed to help.

Looking for answers, Joy’s daughter took her to see Ernest Wright, MD, a neurosurgeon with Ascension Saint Thomas. By then, Joy’s pain was so bad, she could hardly walk and had to use a wheelchair.

“He knew my story, but he listened to what was going on with me,” Joy remembers. “He was so reassuring that he could help me. He said it would be minimally invasive. And he made it so simple.”

Minimally invasive procedures allow surgeons to operate through small incisions. Dr. Wright used a lateral access approach, reaching the spine from Joy’s side rather than through her back.

“Joy’s experience is a testament to the technological advances made in minimally invasive spine surgery over the last five years,” said Dr. Wright. “Approaching the spine from the side allows for quicker and lasting relief from pain. Nothing gives me more satisfaction than seeing my patients get better.”

In fact, Joy said when she woke up the day after surgery, “The pain was just gone. After a few weeks, I was off pain meds altogether. Dr. Wright changed my life.”

The best reaction: “My daughter brought me home and when I walked in the house, my husband was so surprised. He said, ‘I haven’t seen you smile like that in years.’”

At 76 years young, Joy can now do anything she needs to do. She especially loves going to her exercise class three times a week. “Any time you can help someone who has pain issues,” she said, “it’s just a blessing.”

Find out how minimally invasive surgery could relieve your back pain.
Learn more at Saint Thomas Medical Partners Neurosurgery Midtown in Nashville, Tennessee or call 615-327-9543.