Bettendorf Mom Back on Feet Thanks to Back Surgery

Hillary Karben

Hillary Karben is grateful to be up and walking again this summer. The 45-year-old Bettendorf mom is looking forward to her career, favorite family activities, and gym workouts, thanks to emergency back surgery.

“I have no idea what happened,” recalls Hillary.

“In December, I woke up with back pain and discovered I couldn’t move. We had to call the ambulance so the paramedics could lift me out of bed and carry me down the stairs.”

It was a complete surprise to the young, vibrant working mother of 3.

“I’m active. I go to the gym. I am not a sedentary person.”

Herniated Lumbar Disk Causes Back Pain

The first trip to the ER sent her home with pain medication, but the back pain resurfaced two months later. “I missed work for two weeks and I could barely move.”

Dr. Myles Luszczyk, ORA Orthopedics
Dr. Myles Luszczyk, ORA Orthopedics

It was the second trip to the ER that resulted in a consultation with ORA Orthopedics’ spine surgeon, Dr. Myles Luszczyk.

“Hillary was suffering from what we call a ‘flagrant disk herniation,’” he explains. “Our spinal columns are made up of 24 bones called vertebrae, and in between those bones are disks that act as shock absorbers.”

In Hillary’s case, one of her disk had ruptured in her lower back — a condition called a “herniated lumbar disk.”

Dr. Luszczyk says that while Hillary is young for experiencing a bulging disk, a sudden movement, injury, or even genetics can cause the disk to rupture and push against sensitive nerves in the spine.

“My mother had back surgery when she was 41,” recalls Hillary. “My spine is deteriorating, so I guess it was a matter of time for me.”

Disk Herniation a Common Source of Back Pain for Many

Hillary is not alone. According to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons (AAOS), between 60% and 80% of people will experience low back pain at some point in their lives.

A high percentage of people will have low back and leg pain caused by a herniated disk.

Up and Walking Again

To get Hillary up and walking again, Dr. Luszczyk performed a procedure called a microdiscectomy to relieve the pressure and pain radiating to her arms and legs.

“I use a special microscope to view the spinal nerves,” Dr. Luszczyk says. “I make a small incision and remove the portion of the disk protrusion that is pressing and irritating nerves in the spinal column.”

Hillary says the surgery was a complete success. “I was back to work 2 weeks later and have felt fantastic ever since. I am also working out again and feel great!”

Dr. Luszczyk says disk herniations can happen to anyone at any age.

“We first try more conservative approaches like therapies, injections, or manipulations, before we consider surgery,” he adds.

“But in Hillary’s case, surgery was the best option to relieve the shooting-type of leg pain that kept her from walking.” For Hillary, the surgery was life changing.

“Dr. Luszczyk is fantastic. I can move again. The pain is completely gone.”

For more patient success stories, visit ORA Orthopedics.