Susan Russell

Susan Russell

When 63-year-old Roscoe resident Susan Russell experienced back pain so intense that she could no longer get on and off her motorcycle, she knew it was time to seek professional medical treatment.

Susan and her husband, Gary, are avid riders, but in 2017 she developed a slipped vertebrae called spondylolisthesis that kept her from enjoying her favorite hobby. The pain meant she couldn’t even perform everyday tasks such as sweeping the floor or raking the grass.

Her primary care physician referred her to Dr. Christopher Sliva at Rockford Spine Center, where they discussed her treatment plan. Since non-operative treatment failed to control her symptoms, Dr. Sliva recommended Susan undergo surgery to fix the slipped vertebrae and unpinch her nerves. She was a good candidate for transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion, or TLIF, a minimally invasive outpatient procedure.

A TLIF is used to remove degenerated parts of the spine to relieve the compression of nerves in the low back. The procedure is performed through a small incision on the back. The disc and the bone spurs are removed, and an implant filled with bone graft is placed in the empty disc space. In the past, patients could expect several days in the hospital following surgery, but not anymore. Susan was one of Rockford Spine Center’s first patients to undergo outpatient TLIF surgery.

Susan said, “Dr. Sliva and his care team made me feel extremely comfortable.”

They explained everything to her in detail and took time to answer her questions. When she awoke from surgery, she was immediately pain-free and went home the same day.

“When most people describe their back surgery, they don’t use words like ‘exciting’ and ‘great,’ but that is really how I felt about my experience with Dr. Sliva and the care team at Rockford Spine Center,” she said.

It’s recommended that patients limit their activities for the first few weeks following the operation, but patients are encouraged to increase their activities as they begin to feel better. Much to her relief, Susan said she was back to her regular activity in no time. She required no physical therapy and remains pain-free today.

“It’s funny, I was shopping at Menards and started talking about my back surgery with one of the store associates. He went on to tell me that he, too, had spine surgery with Dr. Sliva and had a very positive experience. Spine surgery gave both of us our lives back,” she said.