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Published on August 30, 2013

Karen Crozier - Spine Center Patient

Karen Crozier is a retired public health nurse so she knew there was a problem when she began having a lot of pain in her back, tingling and numbness in her right leg as well as leg fatigue after walking very short distances. “I could hardly walk. I would have to sit and take a break after being on my feet for more than a minute,” said Karen.

She saw an ad for a seminar on low back problems in the KishHealth System Community Wellness Calendar and decided to attend the educational class that Dr. Raymond Hwang was hosting. “I was very impressed with his presentation. It was informative. I learned a lot and it made me decide to go ahead and schedule a consultation with Dr. Hwang,” commented Karen.

At Karen’s initial appointment, Dr. Hwang ordered tests to confirm her condition and discussed the findings and recommended treatment. Karen's symptoms persisted despite all efforts to address them non-surgically, so she decided to have surgery. “Because of my nursing background, I try to find out everything I can when I have a health problem. I was impressed with Dr. Hwang from the beginning. He was very compassionate and had a patient manner. I had a lot of questions for him and he took the time to answer them all. He was very honest and explained all of the risks associated with surgery and how he would take steps to avoid any complications. After speaking with him, I felt confident and decided to have the surgery,” said Karen.

Karen was diagnosed with spondylolisthesis and spinal stenosis. The surgical procedure she needed is called a lumbar laminectomy and instrumented fusion. A lumbar laminectomy is a procedure in which the spinal canal and other areas are unroofed in order to decompress pinched nerves. This typically can relieve symptoms associated with compression of the nerves involved (pain, numbness and/or weakness of the lower extremities arising from these nerves). An instrumented fusion is a procedure that uses implants to help bridge two or more bones together. Fusing bones together in this situation is usually performed when there is spinal instability or potential instability. Implants help increase the chance of successful fusion.

Karen’s surgery took place at Kishwaukee Hospital. “The staff was very caring and attentive. Whenever I needed help and pressed the call button, they quickly attended to my needs. I never had to wait very long for a nurse. All of the nurses were competent and encouraging,” said Karen.

“Before and after my surgery, I talked with many people about the procedure and all agreed that the outcome depended on the skill of the surgeon. Dr. Hwang is definitely a skilled surgeon. It was amazing. I could walk without pain 12 hours after surgery,” added Karen.

Now Karen is attending physical therapy two times a week and feeling stronger every day. “I feel great so far. Dr. Hwang said there was a possibility I could have some residual pain after the surgery but so far I have had no pain or discomfort,” said Karen.

“We are really fortunate to have such an excellent physician like Dr. Hwang right here in our community. I would recommend Dr. Hwang to anyone that has back pain,” added Karen. 

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