LaTrisha’s recovery all started with an appointment with Longstreet Clinic interventional pain management specialist Sook Kyung Yoon, M.D., who recognized her new patient’s dire situation and put her on the path to health by combining her own knowledge with the support of colleagues at the recently established Neuroscience and Orthopedic Center. The Center’s unique structure features a wide range of specialists – including neurosurgeons, orthopedists, pain management, physical medicine, physical therapists and more – all working together under one roof to treat patients facing physical ailments, including the neck issue that tormented LaTrisha.
“As soon as I saw her and read her charts and exams, I knew she was not doing well,” Dr. Yoon said of LaTrisha, whom she first saw in late January 2022. “Her MRI did not look good, and she’d been in pain for many years. So, first we tried a cervical epidural injection, and that only really worked for a couple of hours before the pain came back.”
Dr. Yoon said conservative approaches for conditions like LaTrisha’s are typically effective, and surgery only winds up being required in approximately 10% of similar cases. But when Dr. Yoon examined LaTrisha, at her follow-up visit after the epidural injection, her progressive symptoms indicated muscle weakness, and the 50-year-old could barely move her left side. “It was at that point that I walked across the hall and talked to (neurosurgeon) Dr. (Karl) Kip Schultz about LaTrisha’s options for a possible surgery. Because we’re all here together, we communicate very effectively at our center, and we can get patients in and address their needs quickly.”
After consulting with Dr. Yoon, Dr. Schultz scheduled an appointment with LaTrisha and recognized her as a perfect candidate for surgery to repair a ruptured cervical disc (C 6-7) in her spine.
“There’s a high surgical success rate for people with LaTrisha’s condition – it’s at 95-98 percent. And whatever type of operation the patient chooses in that situation, a disc replacement or a fusion, offers a great prognosis,” Dr. Schultz said. “It’s a straightforward surgery with minimal risk of complications.”
LaTrisha underwent the disc replacement procedure on March 4 – an event that changed everything for the better.
“As soon as I was out of surgery, I felt a whole lot better,” LaTrisha said. “It was incredible, and I’m still doing great now. I can move; I don’t need any pills anymore. It’s just been wonderful. I’m so happy Dr. Yoon and Dr. Schultz listened to me – and took my pain away.”
For their parts, Drs. Schultz and Yoon are thrilled for their patient and are looking forward to the help that the Neuroscience and Orthopedic Center offers patients battling physical limitations – either through injury or chronic condition.
“In normal treatment situations, when the patient has to go between doctors in different offices, there’s an added barrier of communication where maybe you don’t get the full story or picture of what’s happening with a patient.” Dr. Schultz said. “The way we work at the Neuroscience and Orthopedic Center ensures that doesn’t happen. From a collaborative standpoint, it is so nice for all of us – providers and patient – and makes treatment that much easier. And, right now, it’s a unique approach. I don’t know if there’s another center like ours in the rest of the state.”
It certainly was a game changer for LaTrisha – and a setup that she would advocate to anyone in a similar situation.
“I would recommend them to anybody,” LaTrisha said.