From a young age, Robert Golan was predisposed to disc herniation, endured two open-back surgeries in his 20s and a lifetime of intermittent back pain. Due to nerve damage, Robert used a cane, was unable to stand fully upright, feel his toes or put weight on his ankle. Then in August 2010 he was struck with unending, unbearable pain from his right hip to his right ankle.
When epidural injection treatments failed, Robert’s Pain Management physicians referred him to Dr. Bryan Massoud at Spine Centers of America, who identified significant damage from his spinal conditions and previous surgeries. “I read the description of endoscopic surgery and was extremely enthusiastic,” Robert noted. “It just sounded like something that was really ‘out of the box’ and would be a lot better than the traditional approach.”
Immediately following surgery, Robert’s family noticed his new upright posture. As the damaged nerves and muscles began to heal over the following weeks, the pain completely disappeared and he regained his mobility. At his follow-up appointment at SCA, when asked how he was feeling, with a huge smile, he danced in the doctor’s office -- free from pain.
Q and A with Robert Golan
Q. How are you doing today, several weeks after surgery?
A. I’m doing really well – a little sore every so often. I can walk again almost normally. I slumped and used a cane beforehand.
Q. Can you provide a bit of background on how your condition developed and the problem you were experiencing?
When I was 20 I had surgery for a herniated disc, and then a second herniated disc at age 28. I was predisposed to this, but the cause is unknown. (L4-5 level; L5S1). Since then I’ve had intermittent back problems.
Q. How were you feeling before the surgery?
A. I woke up on the morning of August 23, 2010 with huge discomfort in my right hip and within 2 days I had a lot of pain in my lower leg, little feeling in my right foot, was unable to move my toes and had trouble putting weight on my ankle. My pain management doctor tried direct epidural injections but there was no relief, so he recommended Dr. Massoud. The MRI showed lots of damage and Dr. Massoud took it from there.
Q. What other procedures were you considering?
A. I never saw anyone else who recommended anything else. Having gone thru two open back surgeries, I read the description of endoscopic surgery and was extremely enthusiastic. It just sounded like something that was really out of the box and would be a lot better than the traditional, “cut him open and hope he heals”. My previous surgeries took 2-3 months in order to feel better and regain strength. Back then, both provided relief from when I went in.
Q. When did you feel relief from your recent condition?
A. Not during surgery. When I got home that day, the first time I got up to walk, my wife and daughter said I looked straighter already. It took a good two weeks to get the feeling back. I was still pretty sore in my hip, then all of a sudden I woke up two weeks later and said I didn't feel the pain anymore. It took a few weeks to heal. He had to work in two different areas to take out parts of two herniated disc, scar tissue and bone chips from a previous surgery.
Q. How do you feel today?
A. Today my back and hip feel tremendous. My legs are still a bit weak, possibly from nerve damage that occurred prior to surgery. I’m going to physical therapy 3 times per week. I was back at work on November 15th, 3 weeks after surgery.
Q. What can you do now that you couldn’t do before?
A. I can climb up and down stairs almost normally. My balance isn’t great due to weakness in my legs (from unrelated leg and ankle problems). Stairs are no problem now. I am retraining the muscles in legs. I have no pain, can put my own shoes on. I could drive before but it was tough, and now I’m back to what I was before the problem.
I had dropped out of getting my masters in History at Rutgers before the surgery, and now I’m going back to the program on January 18th.
Q. Have you experienced total relief or can you quantify the percentage of relief?
A. It is 90% better than before. And that’s good.
Q. Would you recommend SCA to others?
Q. What have your previous doctors said about your results?
A. My primary care doctor and my physical therapist recommended Dr. Massoud. The doctor who runs the physical therapy actually recommended someone else to Dr. Massoud recently based on my results.