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Successful Lumbar Laminectomy Saves Sue Wien from Wheelchair

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Sue Wien suffered terrible back pain from spinal stenosis and could no longer stand, sit, or bend. Faced with the prospect of eventually needing a wheelchair, Sue sought the services of spine surgery specialist and board certified neurosurgeon Stephen T. Onesti, M.D., F.A.C.S., on her doctor’s recommendation. Spinal stenosis is a narrowing of the spine that puts pressure on nerves, radiating pain and weakness in the arms and legs. Sue had tried acupuncture, chiropractic, and other treatments, but her pain had gotten progressively worse. “I could not stand; I could not sit; I could not bend. I used to cry from pain. I could see there was no getting better from this, and I know that I probably would have gone to a wheelchair eventually,” Sue says. Dr. Onesti decided on a lumbar laminectomy and fusion for Sue. Sue describes her difficult decision to go through with the surgery: “I was terrified. I was afraid that [surgery] would make it even worse, but I could not see my life going further with such agony. [Dr. Onesti] understands the pain, and he understands your fear.” Dr. Onesti is the chief neurosurgeon at South Nassau Communities Hospital, and he co-edited a book on degenerative disc disease of the cervical spine. To perform a lumbar laminectomy, Dr. Onesti made a small incision to remove just enough bone to alleviate pain and pressure on the spinal nerves. Generally, Dr. Onesti only performs these procedures when other treatments, such as physical therapy and pain management, fail to alleviate the pain and discomfort. Sue describes her recovery: “From the time I woke up from anesthesia to today, I have not had a moment’s pain in my back. Even when I went through rehabilitation, there was no pain. It was really quite a miracle for me,” says Sue. Sue expresses her gratitude to Dr. Onesti and his staff. Her newfound freedom of movement allows her to play with her grandchildren. “I could not hope for better, and every time I see him, I thank him because he made my life bearable,” Sue says. “The whole practice somehow came around me, almost lovingly. I know it sounds silly, but they all cared,” she adds.