Arati's Story: Back to the Books
Arati was almost forced to abandon her dream of becoming a doctor because of the excruciating pain from a condition rare among young adults - a herniated disc in her spine.
Last December, the 27-year-old was home in Northern Virginia for a semester break from medical school when her back pain became so severe she could no longer ignore it. "I woke up one morning and collapsed when I got out of bed," she says. "I couldn't walk or sit. I was comfortable only lying on my stomach."
Although Arati had experienced back pain over the years, it had progressively gotten worse during medical school. "I used to be very active, but in medical school I sit for hours and hours studying," Arati says. "Sitting is the worst position for the spine."
For several months, Arati tried different types of pain management options, such as pain relievers, muscle relaxers, anti-infl ammatory medicine, acupuncture and steroid shots.
Still in agony, Arati realized she could not go back to school.
"I couldn't sit for longer than two minutes at a time, so I really had no choice," she says. "I was desperate for pain relief."
In April, Arati went to see Amin Amini, MD, medical director, Neurosurgery, Holy Cross Hospital, and her quest for pain relief started to look brighter.
"Due to the severity of the disc herniation, and the fact that no other treatment options were helping to alleviate her pain, we decided to proceed with surgery," Dr. Amini says. "In June, I performed a minimally invasive microdiscectomy using a surgical microscope, which is one of the latest surgical techniques used to treat herniated discs and other spinal disorders."
In the procedure, a small portion of the bone over the nerve root or disc material from under the nerve root is removed to relieve neural impingement and create more room for the nerve to heal. Because the procedure leaves nearly all of the joints, ligaments and muscles intact, it does not change the mechanical structure of the patient's spine.
Arati spent one night at Holy Cross Hospital, and today she is back at medical school.
"I have my life back, and I am so thankful," she says. "Dr. Amini patiently answered all of my questions and thoroughly discussed all of my options - and he seemed genuinely happy to do this. When it's my turn to treat patients, I will remember how Dr. Amini cared for me -both medically and as a person."
Learn more about our neuroscience program.
This article appeared in the Winter 2010 edition of Holy Cross Health.