My Friend Norah and her Spinal Stenosis

Norah worked at CAFCL office for 15 years and I would see her around the office and through the different activities. When I heard that she had back surgery I was curious about her experience with her surgery and her recovery on her back! Thanks so much for your information and interview with your spinal stenosis. I hope people can learn about Norah and her experience.

Kelsey: What’s were your symptoms?  

Norah: I was diagnosed with spinal stenosis about 10 years ago. It was very painful to walk.

Kelsey: Why did you need back surgery? 

Norah: Vacuuming all sorts of different things shovelling snow was impossible and it got to the point where vacuuming or washing the floor was next to impossible.

Kelsey: How much pain were you in before your surgery, how long was recovery from the surgery?

Norah: The pain was pretty severe it went from my lower back down the back of my legs into my feet and up the front of my calves. The recovery from the surgery was four months. And up until the four months I didn’t know if I had done the right thing. I never had physio therapy before or after but after the four months. I was able to walk for a couple days and then a new pain started and I thought oh dear. I had an appointment with the surgeon and told him about the pain and he said unfortunately it probably is still part of the stenosis because it goes all the way up my spine. He told me in about six years I would probably need it again. I did not want to hear that but I’m so glad that I had the surgery.

Kelsey: If anyone else need this surgery, what would you say to them?

Norah: If anybody has it, I would say get the surgery it is changed my life. It’s given me back my life, I guess you could say I am able to walk now. I do an average of 10 to 15,000 steps a day which is about an hour and a half to two hours of walking.

Kelsey: What’s your hobbies?

Norah: As for hobbies I have all sorts of hobbies I love to paint, knit and crochet. I love to play cards with my good friends or family and grandkids.

Kelsey: Tell me about your childhood, where did you grow up? Do you have any siblings?

Norah: I grew up in Edmonton I was the youngest out of five kids, I had two sisters and two brothers.

Kelsey: How do I know you?

Norah: I worked at CAFCL for just about 15 years, and I met you through work at different events.

Kelsey:  Do you have any memory of your parents?

Norah: I absolutely have great memories of my parents. They were the best parents any kid could ask for. We didn’t have a lot, but we always had a roof over our head and lots of food and clothes on our back. My parents have been gone for quite a while, my mom 15 years and my dad about 25 years now. They worked hard and the kitchen table always had lots of family and friends around it.

Kelsey: Did your family and friends give you support for your surgery?

Norah: My siblings and my kids gave me lots of support and my Friends were amazing.

Kelsey: What hobbies did you do as a child? 

Norah: As a child I didn’t really have hobbies I babysat a lot I always loved kids.

Here is some information I found on the internet:

Spinal stenosis is an abnormal narrowing of the spinal canal or neural foramen that results in pressure on the spinal cord or nerve roots.[6] Symptoms may include pain, numbness, or weakness in the arms or legs.[1] Symptoms are typically gradual in onset and improve with bending forwards.[1] Severe symptoms may include loss of bladder control, loss of bowel control, or sexual dysfunction.[1

Causes may include osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, spinal tumors, trauma, Paget’s disease of the bone, scoliosis, spondylolisthesis, and the genetic condition achondroplasia.[3] It can be classified by the part of the spine affected into cervical, thoracic, and lumbar stenosis.[2] Lumbar stenosis is the most common, followed by cervical stenosis.[2] Diagnosis is generally based on symptoms and medical imaging.[4]

Treatment may involve medications, bracing, or surgery.[6] Medications may include NSAIDs, acetaminophen, or steroid injections.[7] Stretching and strengthening exercises may also be useful.[1] Limiting certain activities may be recommended.[6] Surgery is typically only done if other treatments are not effective, with the usual procedure being a decompressive laminectomy.[7]

Spinal stenosis occurs in as many as 8% of people.[4] It occurs most commonly in people over the age of 50.[8] Males and females are affected equally often.[9] The first modern description of the condition is from 1803 by Antoine Portal, and there is evidence of the condition dating back to Ancient Egypt.[10]

My staff Alex and her tore ACL and MCL

I met Alex while she was working at my house. When, she tore her ACL and MCL, she said you should interview me about her experience. I quickly made-up interview questions.  When I found out she hurt her knee and needed surgery, I was scared and shocked to hear the news!

Kelsey: What happened with the ACL and MCL in your knee?

Alex: I play for Ambrose Women’s basketball team, and I tore my Anterior Cruciate ligament (ACL) and medial collateral ligament (MCL) in a practice during preseason. I got my leg caught between my teammate and fell backwards and as I fell it twisted and I heard a loud POP.

Kelsey: Rate your pain 1-10

Alex: My pain depends on the day, when I sit down, I have no pain, but when I walk for a long time I have a pain around a 4. My swelling is still there in my knee.

Kelsey: What things are difficult for you to do?

Alex: Things that are now difficult for me to do are any physical activities. I also am unable to bend my knee all the way due to loss of flexion in my leg for keeping it straight for 2 weeks after surgery. But the flexion will return in a few months.

Kelsey: How did your family act when you hurt yourself?

Alex: When I got hurt, my family felt sad for me because they knew I was in a lot of pain. My mom felt bad for me because she had the same thing happen to her knee. But my whole family was very supportive and helped me through the whole process.

Kelsey: What would you tell people that went though this same issue in their knee? 

Alex: I would tell other people to keep their head up, it is a very difficult and serious injury but having the surgery has allowed me to attempt physical activities again. Although recovery time is around one year, it is definitely a learning experience. I’m hoping it is worth it in the end.

Kelsey: Can you still play your favourite sports?

Alex: I can not play them at the moment, but I am hoping to return to all of my activities once I am fully healed.

Kelsey: What are your hobbies?

Alex: My hobbies are hiking, playing basketball, hanging with my family and friends, and going to the lake, watching the sunset (not really a hobby ha-ha) and snowboarding!

Kelsey: How was your childhood?

Alex: My childhood was good! I grew up in a Christian household, and I have two siblings. A younger sister and younger brother. My childhood was filled with love laughter and so much adventure.

Kelsey: What’s your plan after school, what did you go to school for?

Alex: I am taking bachelor of arts in behavioural science and after that I am going into a two year education degree to become a teacher for children with special needs.

I found this information on the internet if you would like to know more about ACL and MCL.

The medial collateral ligament (MCL) connects the top of your shinbone (tibia) to the bottom of your femur (thighbone). Located outside of your knee joint, this ligament helps hold your bones together and adds stability to your knee. MCL injuries are most common in contact sports, like soccer and football, and are the result of a hit to the outer part of the knee. While MCL surgery can be necessary in some situations, it’s not always the go-to form of treatment. Symptoms of an MCL Injury An MCL tear has similar symptoms to other knee injuries, like ACL tears. Because of the similar symptoms, it’s crucial to have an orthopaedic physician assess your injury. Most commonly, the following symptoms are reported after an MCL injury: A popping sound at the time of injury A swollen knee joint Pain and tenderness along the inside edge of the knee Locking or catching in the knee joint Diagnosing an MCL Injury Your physician will need to first examine your knee by bending or applying pressure to the outside of the joint. This will also tell them if your knee is loose. From there, an orthopaedic surgeon will likely order imaging tests to get a look at your knee joint. An X-ray will show them the bones in your knee while an MRI scan will give them a closer look at your ligaments. For patients with claustrophobia or anxiety, an open MRI scan can be ordered in certain locations. Once your orthopaedic physician has reviewed your scans and completed the physical examination, they will classify your MCL tear as one of the following grades: Grade I: A partial MCL tear Grade II: A near complete MCL tear Grade III: A complete MCL tear with a non-functional ligament MCL Treatment The right MCL treatment plan will depend on the severity of your tear. Grade I and Grade II tears can heal on their own within a few days to a few weeks as long as you get plenty of rest. Since Grade III MCL injuries are complete tears, the ligament is unable to heal itself and surgery is needed. Surgery may also be needed if there is any grade of an MCL tear along with other ligament issues. A nonsurgical treatment plan will include some or all of the following: Applying ice to reduce swelling Taking anti-inflammatory medication to reduce pain and swelling Using an elastic bandage or brace to compress the knee Walking with crutches to keep the weight off the injured knee Limiting activities that could cause reinjury or disrupt healing Physical therapy to regain strength MCL Surgery & Repair During MCL surgery, the orthopaedic surgeon will make small incisions in your knee and insert an arthroscope, which is a small tube-shaped instrument. Methods for reattaching or reconstructing the torn ligament can vary. Options include using a portion of the patellar tendon (which connects the tibia and the kneecap) or the hamstring tendon (from the back of the thigh). Tendon grafts can come from the patient or an organ donor. MCL surgery is typically an outpatient procedure, meaning an overnight stay in the hospital is not necessary. Recovering from an MCL Injury Whether MCL surgery is needed or not, the outlook for recovery after a tear is very good. However, recovery times will depend on the severity of the injury and the treatment option you’re prescribed. It’s important to follow the guidance of your orthopaedic surgeon and/or physical therapist throughout the recovery period to ensure that your knee heals properly and to prevent further injury.