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American teacher finds relief from years of pain

RAK Hospital conducts its first artificial cervical disc replacement surgery on a 54-year-old patient

Staff Report
15:44 July 5, 2017
Tracy Anthony with Dr Tinku Jose

Ras Al Khaimah: Fifty-four-year-old Tracy Anthony, an American national, came to RAK Hospital emergency with excruciating pain and numbness in his right upper arm along with a tingling sensation throughout the arm.

He had been suffering from pain in his right shoulder for eight years, but had dismissed it as a sports injury, opting for painkillers, chiropractors and physiotherapy sessions, but to no avail.

A teacher in a school in Ras Al Khaimah, the situation was making it difficult for him to perform his professional duties properly so when the condition worsened, he decided to seek medical intervention at RAK Hospital.

Cervical spondylosis

An MRI test revealed that Anthony had severe cervical spondylosis — an aggravated ‘wear and tear’ of the vertebrae and discs in the neck, resulting in herniated disc or slipped disc.

He was referred to Dr Tinku Jose, consultant neurosurgeon at RAK Hospital, who suggested an artificial cervical disc replacement surgery as treatment.

This was the first time that this kind of surgery was being done at RAK Hospital.

“As we age, our vertebrae degenerates and the spinal disks in our neck dehydrate and shrink, leading to osteoarthritis,” said Dr Jose.

“The edges of the vertebrae often develop small, rough areas of bone.”

In this case, the degeneration had led to cracks in his vertebrae, resulting in bulging disks which pressed on his spinal cord and nerve roots. Surgical intervention was needed.

The medical team opted for artificial cervical disc replacement instead of a traditional method, which involves removing a damaged disc. Disc replacement allows full movement of the neck after recovery.

Quick recovery

Recovery time for this procedure is short.

“In fact, Mr Anthony was up on his feet within a few hours of the surgery,” said Dr Jose.

Anthony’s condition generally has no symptoms, but can show itself typically in the form of pain and stiffness in the neck.

However, in severe cases, it can result in numbness and tingling in arms, and doctors advise immediate consultation when experiencing such symptoms.

If not addressed at the right time, it can lead to permanent damage and disrupt quality of life. Slipped discs commonly develop in people whose age ranges from 30 to 50 years.

The condition affects twice as many men as women.

“For eight years, I was so used to the pain that I didn’t know what life was without it. Thanks to Dr Jose and his team, I can now look forward to a pain-free life,” said Anthony.