Skip directly to content

Carmen’s Story

Finding your passion is a life-changing experience, and dance is without a doubt Carmen’s calling. Though she likes to do a little bit of everything, Latin dance is hands-down her favorite to perform. Maybe it’s the sound of the music, the steps she’s been practicing for years, or just the positive energy she gets from everyone in the room – Carmen is always at her happiest when she’s moving to the beat. This physically demanding hobby gives her energy, boosts her mood and even helped her control her mild back pain that she’s lived with since she was in her 20s.

Unfortunately, Carmen’s life was turned upside-down when she was involved in a car accident in 2014. The impact from the accident caused her usual mild back pain and discomfort to skyrocket to excruciating levels, leaving her almost immobile.  

“I couldn’t do anything and I was walking with a walker,” Carmen said. “I was like a baby, I couldn’t dress myself and my pain would wake me up every night. I couldn’t hold a cup or glass in my hand.”

Her quality of life drastically decreased, and she was forced to rely on friends and family to help her with daily tasks. Her time on the dance floor was put on hold due to her growing pain, and the only way she could enjoy the energetic atmosphere was to sit on the sideline and watch her friends dance from a distance.   

Carmen saw many doctors and surgeons, each with a different diagnosis, opinion and procedure recommendation – yet she was reluctant to proceed with any major treatment. She had heard horror stories about spine surgery from friends and family, and she was afraid that she would end up in worse shape than before. Nevertheless, when her physician recommended that she see Dr. Chetan Patel, the medical director of the Spine Health Institute in Altamonte Springs, Fla. and a world-renowned spine specialist, she made the appointment and kept it.   

Before she officially saw Dr. Patel, Carmen was sent to SHI’s pain management team where she received a few rounds of pain management injections over the course of a few months. The injections helped at first, but her pain soon returned and she was back to square one. After the injections failed to bring the relief she needed, Carmen was referred to Dr. Patel. Upon reviewing Carmen’s medical history, diagnostic tests and past treatments, Dr. Patel diagnosed her with stenosis, spondylolisthesis and a synovial cyst. Since the injections weren’t successful in relieving Carmen’s pain, Dr. Patel concluded that surgery would be her best option.

Immediately, the memories of those horror stories began to flood Carmen’s mind and make her hesitant about proceeding with an operation - but something told her she could trust Dr. Patel.

“After telling me about my need for surgery, Dr. Patel asked me what I wanted the end result to be after surgery,” Carmen said. “I told him if he could help me dance again … that’s all I want. I’ve been sitting on the sidelines and watching everyone else for too long.”

With Carmen’s goal in mind, Dr. Patel performed an L5-S1 microdiscectomy in January 2016. He told her it could take six months to a year to fully heal – but within the first week of her surgery, she was able to walk comfortably without any pain and without the use of a walker.

Click here to visit our SpineU video library for educational videos on prevention and treatment of various spine conditions.

“I was able to heal fast and do well in physical therapy,” Carmen said. “So well, in fact, that my therapist was able to discharge me a month early. I healed a lot faster than Dr. Patel thought I would.”

It’s been almost six months since Carmen’s surgery, and she is already showing her moves on the dance floor.

“My family and friends are ecstatic because they know how much dancing means to me,” Carmen said. “I’m so grateful and appreciative. Everyone was friendly, helpful and thoughtful at SHI and at Florida Hospital Altamonte during recovery. I would recommend them to everyone.”

We are glad to see you back on the dance floor, Carmen!

If you’ve been experiencing back pain, give our office a call at 866.986.7497 or click on the Book Online button at the top of this page. Dr. Chetan Patel strives to provide the least invasive treatments possible for a variety of back and neck conditions. For educational videos on common spine conditions and prevention tips, visit our SpineU video library.