Patient Stories

Steven S. Hughes, MD

As a physical therapist who helps patients recover from injury, Jeanette recognized that something was very wrong after she hurt her back on the job. Constant pain in her lower back and hip impacted her daily life. She couldn’t exercise, she couldn’t lift patients at work and, worst of all, she couldn’t keep up with her three young, energetic children.

Jeanette, 34, knew exactly where to turn for help: OrthoVirginia spine surgeon Steven Hughes, MD. “I worked with him a lot in my job,” she says. “He was always very involved and cared what was happening to his patients. I sensed he would treat me with that same level of consideration and attention.”

Jeanette was right. At her first appointment, Dr. Hughes immediately diagnosed bilateral spondylolisthesis – a vertebra in her lumbar spine had slipped forward onto the vertebra below it, causing pain and nerve crowding in her lower back, hip and leg. When physical therapy and facet joint blocks (injections) failed to alleviate the pain, Jeanette opted for a spinal fusion.

During this procedure, the surgeon places bone or a bone-like material within the space between two spinal vertebrae. Metal plates, screws and rods are used to hold the vertebrae together, so they can heal into one solid unit.

After a couple of months of rehabilitation to restore range of motion, flexibility and core strength, Jeanette returned to her demanding job as a physical therapist. She resumed running and tennis soon after that. The constant ache in her hip is gone and she has the stamina to keep up with her kids – aged 6, 4 and 2 – lifting them onto the swings and monkey bars at the playground with ease.

“My entire experience at OrthoVirginia was excellent,” she says. “From the minute I walked into Dr. Hughes’ office, I felt he understood my story and treated me like a person, rather than just another patient. He only cared about getting me better and back to what I love.”