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Spine patient is pain-free at last

West Virginia man finally finds relief from chronic back pain at Augusta Health

Gary Greer, 56, is no stranger to the hospital environment. He has had seven surgeries over the course of his life. When he began experiencing severe lower back pain that radiated down to his left leg, knee and groin around two years ago, he knew something needed to be done.

Greer, who lives in Mathias, West Virginia, sought medical care and discovered he had a pinched nerve. He doesn’t recall injuring himself; he began experiencing the pain one day, and it steadily got worse. Greer had surgery at another hospital in Virginia, but that did not fix his back pain. “The problem progressed and got worse after the surgery,” he says.

He tried back injections, physical therapy and at-home exercises for pain relief, but nothing worked. Still in pain, Greer decided to consult both Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore and the Augusta Health Spine Clinic.

The drive to Augusta Health was only 75 miles one way for Greer, while the drive to Johns Hopkins was around 170 miles. Greer’s wife worried about driving that far following his surgery. The distance, coupled with a handful of other factors, led Greer to choose Augusta Health for his surgery.

Top-notch care

Greer was connected with Clark B. Bernard, MD, a spine surgeon with the Augusta Health Spine Clinic. Dr. Bernard ordered an MRI that showed Greer’s disc was protruding over 12 mm.

“He had a disc herniation,” Dr. Bernard says. “The disc can push on a nerve that goes down the leg, and that nerve can get irritated and cause numbness, tingling, burning, aching, stabbing or throbbing types of pains. Some people are left to tears and basically say, ‘I’m miserable, do something about it.’ It can be very, very distressing for a patient.”

Dr. Bernard completed a procedure on Greer called a lumbar microdiscectomy on Aug. 24, 2018. Now, several months later, Greer finally feels a sense of relief that this time, surgery worked.

“I felt almost immediately better — in a matter of just two days,” Greer says. “I was in the hospital and a couple of hours after I awoke, I was up and walking. Granted I was on medication, but I wasn’t experiencing any pain.”

Greer is confident the procedure fixed his back pain.

“Dr. Bernard has me 65 to 75 percent better at this point, and I’m only about two months out of surgery,” Greer said in the fall. “I’m confident that he did a good job. I don’t feel uneasy when I’m with him — he has a good, respectable bedside manner. He’s just a nice person. He seems like he cares a lot about what he does. I can’t say enough good things about him.”

To learn more about the Augusta Health Spine Clinic, visit augustahealth.com/spine-clinic or call (540) 332-4000. Read another story about the clinic here.