Landi Miller

Landi Miller

Excruciating. That’s how Landi Miller describes the pain she was feeling on her right side, working down from her neck to her shoulder and into her right arm. This busy single mom with three kids and a job in the Winnebago County court system saw her life thrown into a tailspin when she was diagnosed with two herniated discs by her family practice physician.

“I was popping Advil non-stop and then had to switch to stronger medication,” she recalls. “That made me so tired I couldn’t do anything with my kids and it was affecting my job.”

Following the initial diagnosis in late 2014, her family physician referred her to Spine Surgeon Michael Roh, M.D., at Rockford Spine Center, who explained where the herniated discs were located and some treatment options, including surgery.

Patients have a very visceral reaction to their pain, says Dr. Roh. “When I meet with a patient, I pay close attention to both their non-verbal signs and the adjectives they use to describe their pain. What’s most telling is when a patient explains all the things that they can’t do because of their pain. It’s very emotional for them.”

In Landi’s case, the disc herniations were severe. Her first treatment was an epidural pain injection, followed by physical therapy. Neither brought her any relief.

“We tried the injection and then I did PT three times a week for a month but it didn’t help,” she says. “My right hand was going numb on a regular basis and when I dropped a cup of coffee because of that, I knew it was time to do something.”

She met with Dr. Roh again, who outlined the options for surgery. They chose a total disc replacement (TDR), which Dr. Roh has performed numerous times with very positive outcomes.

“A TDR can be very effective because it offers a shorter recovery time,” says Dr. Roh. “That’s important for all patients, obviously. However, for patients whose condition might be impacting their ability to work, it’s absolutely critical that they can return to their job in a timely manner.”

Landi remembers how “ready” she was to have the surgery and how excited she was to hear Dr. Roh tell her that when she awoke, the pain would be gone.

“It was just crazy how that worked,” she says. “He said I would have instant pain relief and it was immediately gone. I had the surgery on a Wednesday and was back to work on Monday.”

Landi followed her doctor’s orders and worked hard to keep her sutures and the incision clean, which led to a full and uneventful recovery. Today, about a year after the surgery, she tells people that if they have this kind of severe pain to get it checked out right away.

“It’s amazing how my life changed,” Landi says. “I’m back to being the mom I was before I was in so much pain. I can’t say enough about Dr. Roh and his team. They were just amazing.”