A new spinal surgery gave some long-awaited relief to a Danbury Township woman.
Melinda Hild, dressed in a neck collar, appeared stiff and uncomfortable Thursday, but wiggled her fingers and moved her arms without pain for the first time in a year.
Hild, 33, underwent a disc replacement surgery March 14 at MetroHealth Medical Center in Cleveland. She was only the third patient at the hospital to receive the revolutionary surgery, approved by the Food and Drug Administration in August.
"When I woke up, I was really happy that I could wiggle my toes," Hild said. "I'm just thankful that I can move and walk."
Three years ago, Hild suffered a severe whiplash after a couch was dropped on her head. An initial doctor's visit revealed nothing, but more than a year ago, she began feeling pain in her neck and experienced weakness and numbness in her arms and fingers.
Doctors discovered she had a herniated disc that was bulging from her neck.
"It's just been progressively worse," she said. "I couldn't look to the right or the left."
That's when Hild and her husband, Brian, began researching types of spinal surgery.
The traditional disc fusion surgery requires doctors to remove the herniated disc, replace it with donor bone and fuse it with vertebrae above and below the disc. This procedure could potentially limit mobility and lead to further deterioration of neighboring discs, said Dr. Roseanna Lechner, Hild's neurosurgeon.
Disc replacement surgery is different from the traditional disc fusion surgery because it allows for more flexibility and less disc degeneration later in life, said Lechner, who has performed all three of the hospital's surgeries.
"It's mostly to try to prevent -- particularly in young persons -- other problems and not come back for repeat surgeries," Lechner said. "With disc replacement surgery, you maintain mobility."
The stainless steel device that was attached to Hild's spine ensures her neck's flexibility and is designed to last forever, Lechner said.
Another benefit to the surgery could be potentially shorter recovery time.
The average recovery time for a disc fusion surgery is about six to eight weeks, while patients undergoing disc replacement surgery are back on their feet in about four to six weeks.
Hild is expected to return to work at her business Mindi's Daycare on Friday, although she will have help from her husband.
"For this to happen as quickly as it did was a blessing," Brian Hild said.
The $32,000 surgery was covered by the Hild's insurance, but is not recommended for everyone.
The surgery is ideal for people with no history of severe arthritis and only one herniated disc, Lechner said. Studies are ongoing for multiple-disc replacement surgeries.
Hild said she is looking forward to playing with her four children without wincing in pain.
"I'm sore, but every day, I'm getting stronger," she said.
For more information on the disc replacement surgery, visit the Web site www.metrohealth.org.