A Path to Recovery after a Second Opinion for Back Pain: Joe’s Story

Joe's story for his lumbar radiculopathy.

Joe is no stranger to back pain or to back surgery. He had two operations in the past few years, but the pain would soon return afterwards. 

“It was frustrating to not have lasting relief,” Joe says. “The pain level was OK at first, then just got worse and worse.” 

Pain Impacting Joe’s Quality of Life

It got to the point where Joe could walk no more than 100 yards or so before needing to rest. Bending down to pick something up was painful and he had severe leg pain.

The pain was keeping Joe, who also has retinitis pigmentosa and is legally blind, from doing simple things he enjoyed like talking walks with his wife and walking on the treadmill at the local gym.

Non-surgical Options for Back Pain

Joe's patient story

Before thinking about more surgery, Joe considered other options. He tried an epidural injection, medication, and physical therapy, none of which brought real relief. 

He was beginning to think he would just have to live with the pain, but then a suggestion from his physical therapist and an acquaintance led him to seek a second-opinion appointment with Dr. Christopher Kager at LG Health Physicians NeuroScience & Spine Associates.

Dr. Kager Determines Stenosis is the Source of Pain

Dr. Kager evaluated Joe and diagnosed lumbar radiculopathy, which is compression, inflammation, and/or injury to a spinal nerve root.

Joe had narrowing (or stenosis) in his spine, as well as a significant disc herniation at the L2-3 disc level pressing on those spinal nerves which provide sensation to the front part of the thigh and inner side of the lower leg—likely the source of Joe’s leg pain. 

Dr. Kager recommended right sided L2-3 and L3-4 laminectomies and discectomies, which included removing disc material that had broken off and was putting pressure on the nerve.

“Back pain and spine issues are not always a one-time fix, as the spine can continue to degenerate and cause problems,” says Dr. Kager. “This is one of the biggest challenges in spine care.” 

Recovery and a Return to Life

Shortly after the surgery in August 2020, Joe felt relief he hadn’t experienced in more than 10 years. He is faithfully doing follow-up exercises at home to strengthen and protect his back.

“I can’t believe how good I feel,” he says. “My leg pain is gone. I haven’t felt this good in 10 years.”

Joe says his experience with teams at NeuroScience & Spine Associates and Lancaster General Hospital couldn’t have been better, describing it as “a well-oiled machine.”

“Getting a second opinion was useful for me,” says Joe. “I had a great rapport with Dr. Kager. He listened and asked questions and helped me through a frustrating experience.”

About LG Health Hub

The LG Health Hub features breaking medical news and straightforward advice to help individuals of all ages make healthy choices and reach their wellness goals. The blog puts articles by trusted Lancaster General Health clinical experts, good 'n healthy recipes, videos, patient stories, and health risk assessments at your fingertips.


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