Degenerative Disc Disease

Roxann in the kitchen

“My dad was right. You got taller!” 

Roxann Krantz recalls how she laughed at her grandson’s reaction after her spine surgery.

For several years, Roxann had gotten “shorter” due to increasing lower back pain—pain that severely  impacted her ability to stand up straight and engage in the activities she enjoys.

“I chalked it up to old age and arthritis at first,” said the 71-year-old Lititz woman who thrives on being active.

Roxann has always been on the go and on her feet, whether raising her children, working as a nurse’s aide and restaurant hostess, or tending to her home. She and her husband Chuck love tackling projects on their property, maintaining their fish ponds, and searching for antiques to add to one of their many collections.

In the past few years, however, things drastically changed.

“It got to the point that I couldn’t even walk to the mailbox and back,” said Roxann. “I really missed gardening and taking care of our fish ponds and flower beds.”

 For four months, she spent most of her day in bed due to pain.

A Degenerative Disc Diagnosis

With the pain becoming unbearable, Roxann turned to her family doctor who referred her to Dr. Christopher Kager at LG Health Physicians NeuroScience and Spine Associates.

“I had confidence in Dr. Kager within a couple of minutes of meeting him,” said Roxann. “I felt I had been sent to the right person.”

Roxann seated on a couch

Dr. Kager determined that Roxann was suffering from degenerative disc disease in her lower back (lumbar spine). While not actually a disease, this age-related condition results from discs breaking down, causing narrowing of the spinal canal and compression of the nerves, leading to pain. In Roxann’s case, Dr. Kager explained that she was experiencing bone against bone and severe nerve compression.  He offered Roxann three options: more physical therapy (which had not previously helped her), steroid injections in the spine, or surgery.

“I chose surgery,” said Roxann. “I didn’t want to risk doing more damage or miss the opportunity for surgery due to problems that might come with aging.”

Surgery and Recovery

Dr. Kager performed Roxann’s lumbar spine fusion surgery at Lancaster General Hospital in August 2019.

“Our experience at Lancaster General Hospital was amazing,” recalled Roxann and Chuck. “The location and parking were very convenient. The staff explained everything to us and kept Chuck apprised during my surgery.”

Roxann said she felt better immediately after surgery.

“I had almost no pain and within a week, needed no medication,” she said.

The morning after surgery, a physical therapist had her up and walking. An occupational therapist helped prepare her for daily activities like dressing and getting in and out of the car.

Follow-up and Back to Living Life to the Fullest

Five weeks later she began outpatient physical therapy at the NeuroScience and Spine Associates office on Crooked Oak Drive in Lancaster. She loved the convenience of having follow-up visits with Dr. Kager, physical therapy, and imaging all at one location.

By December, she was able to continue her therapy at home, diligently doing exercises and walking three times each days.

“Dr. Kager told me he could get me back to 80%, smiled Roxann. “I’ve already exceeded that!”

Roxann and Chuck will celebrate their 50th anniversary in August 2020.

“I look forward to being in much better shape than I was for our 49th,” laughed Roxann, quick to credit Dr. Kager and all the staff at NeuroScience and Spine Associates

“They saved me. They gave me my life back.”

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