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  Back to previous page ¦ Neurosurgery stories ¦ Search stories

On the road again

Bismarck man rediscovers hobby after innovative surgery
For about a year, Patrick Conmy of Bismarck had such pain, numbness and tingling in his shoulder and arm that he quit riding motorcycles and jet skiing, two of his favorite hobbies.

“I had a throbbing, aching pain in my arm all the time,” Conmy said.

His fingertips had been numb for about a year, and he had trouble holding up the motorcycle and keeping his hands on the handlebars.

He had three pinched nerves and bone spurs in his neck caused by an old heavy lifting injury from a previous job.

When a Sanford Health neurosurgeon told Conmy bone spurs were pressing on his

  Bismarck man rediscovers hobby after innoviative surgery
Before surgery on his neck, Patrick Conmy stopped riding his motorcycle because he couldn’t grip the handlebars.
nerves and spinal cord, he gave up motorcycling and jet skiing, “for fear of falling off and cracking my neck.”

After multiple treatment options failed to bring relief, a Sanford neurosurgeon did a new type of surgery where he inserted two artificial disks and a fusion in between.

The surgeon chose this surgery over a traditional fusion operation where the offending disk is removed and the bones fuse together, because the disks above and below the fusion wear out much faster and, often, patients have much less range of motion in their neck.

Often, the more levels you fuse, the greater the problem. Patients may do well five to 10 years and then develop problems and have to have another fusion.

Artificial disks have been around for four or five years and the operation is done through the front of the neck, so the surgeon doesn’t have to go through major muscle groups.

People who do repetitive or unnatural neck movements at work, such as people who work on assembly lines, are prone to the kind of spinal cord compression Conmy suffered.

After his three-level surgery, Conmy said the pain and tingling were gone immediately, and the sensation gradually returned to his fingertips, which had been numb for the previous year.

“I can pick coins up off the table,” he said. “The pain is gone.”

Conmy, who is a supervisor for the Transportation Security Administration at the Bismarck airport, can do things with his grandkids he couldn’t do before.

Also, the day before his September 2010 surgery, he put his motorcycle in storage, but he broke it out again as soon as the weather warmed up.

“I rode as much as I could this summer,” Conmy said. “It felt good. It’s not just a paper weight in my garage anymore.”

Click here for more information on Sanford Health’s neurosurgery department.


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