Wakefield man gets his life back after three decades of back pain

December 2014

After almost 30 years of debilitating back pain, Peter Austin says his life has been transformed, thanks to cutting edge spinal surgery.

Peter, 53, a supply demand manager for a Leeds company and a keen amateur golfer, suffered from severe back pain, which affected his life both at home and at work. In the last twelve months before surgery the pain worsened to the point where, just before the operation, he could hardly walk and was unable to drive. It became so bad he lost the use of his right leg. He could not lift his foot and was dragging his leg when walking.
Peter Austin with his dog Poppy

“When the pain was at its worst I struggled to walk and the pain was almost unbearable. My quality of life was worsening. There was so much in life I was missing out on and I decided it was time to do something about it,” said Peter, who is married to Christine.

His GP referred him to Mr Deb Pal consultant neurosurgeon at Spire Leeds Hospital, who immediately arranged for an MRI scan. The results showed a huge disc prolapse in his lower back.  By this time his symptoms had deteriorated to the point where pain medications were no longer effective. Peter had tried various other treatments and physiotherapy, but they only gave temporary relief and he needed a long-term solution for the pain as well as for the disability associated with the right leg weakness.

Mr Pal said, “Peter had lumbar disc prolapse with nerve root compression. This was causing weakness of his foot giving him a significant disability in terms of his mobility.”

Mr Pal discussed the options with Peter and recommended surgery. Peter decided to go ahead and had a Microdiscectomy procedure in April 2014.

The minimally invasive procedure involved the prolapsed disc being removed using a microscope through a tube with creation of room for the nerve. He was in hospital overnight and following surgery the pain resolved immediately.  At his follow up appointment the foot weakness too had resolved.

“It’s not a new procedure but rather an excellent outcome for a spinal condition where the surgical outcome is uncertain in relation to the foot weakness,” said Mr Pal. “We expected the cause of the pain to be removed however his foot weakness also started improving soon after surgery and a few weeks later with the help of physiotherapy he had regained full normal power of his foot.” 

“It was like a miracle,” said Peter. “Right after the surgery the pain had gone and within a week the strength started returning in my foot. I was able to go home the next day after surgery.”

Peter was able to return to work four weeks later. Two weeks ago he was back on the golf course. “I played my first 18 holes on the golf course. Everything is back to normal and it all happened. faster than expected,” he said.

“Deb Pal is fantastic!” said Peter. “It’s like a miracle to be pain free after suffering from back pain for most of my adult life. It was a very daunting decision to go ahead with spinal surgery however, I would not have waited if I had known what I know now.”

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