Artificial Disc Replacement Delivers TKO to Pain

Recreational boxer Robby Lamb was down for the count until she consulted with surgeons in GW’s Orthopaedics Department.

Robby LambTwo back injuries and a genetic disposition for degenerative disc disease made it difficult for Robby Lamb to enjoy one of her favorite activities. She persevered until mid-2011, when a neck injury brought numbness and muscle spasms down her left arm. She saw a local orthopaedic physician who prescribed oral steroids, epidural steroids, physical therapy and rest. Months later, the pain and numbness remained.

“The injury robbed me of my life,” says Lamb. “I couldn’t exercise, I couldn’t sleep well and my arms got so numb I was dropping anything in my left hand. I was worried I couldn’t safely carry my new niece.”

Several doctors later – all recommending conservative treatment – led her to an appointment with Joe O’Brien, MD, Associate Director, Spine Surgery and Associate Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery and Neurosurgery at the George Washington University Hospital. Lamb says that Dr. O’Brien was the first to advocate artificial disc replacement (ADR). “He was the first one who was willing to go after the root cause of my pain,” she says.

Determining that Lamb was a good candidate for ADR, surgery was scheduled for December 2012 on the C5-6 disc in her cervical (upper) spine. The procedure involves placing metal caps on the bone with a polyethylene insert between them. “Less invasive than spine fusion – a standard treatment for diseased vertebrae – ADR takes about one hour and the patient usually goes home the same day or next day,” says Dr. O’Brien.

For Lamb, the results were immediate. “I could flex my hand and make a fist without twitching or feeling weak,” she says. “I can’t express the relief I felt.”

Lamb feels lucky that she went to GW Hospital. “I have no restrictions now. I put 850 miles on the elliptical in 2013, I lift weights, play softball and am back to losing weight,” she says. “Next up? Getting back in the ring."

“GW Hospital has the capability to do this very specialized procedure, which your average orthopaedic surgeon at a community hospital would not be able to undertake. It’s an evolving alternative to other surgical procedures when conservative treatment has failed.”
Robert J. Neviaser, MD

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Dr. O’Brien  Meet Dr. O’Brien and orthopaedic surgeon Warren Yu, MD, on Wednesday, May 14, when they’ll be discussing treatment options for back and neck pain.

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Artificial Disc Replacement
Delivers TKO to Pain
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