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    Mississippi man finds relief at Mayo Clinic for excruciating back pain

Ed Markle standing on a lookout with a city, hills and a body of water in the background.

Edward Markle was desperate.

Despite receiving nerve blocks from his doctors, Edward says the pain from two herniated discs had become excruciating and unrelenting. He could not sit or walk without pain. He slept on the floor, two hours a night. He was increasingly worried about the future.

"It shut my quality of life down to almost zero," he says. "I couldn't move. I could not get out. I could not find a way to hide from the pain. There was no position to get into to get even a minute's worth of relief. There was no light at the end of the tunnel."

Looking for help

Edward began to search in earnest for a solution. One night, at 2 a.m., he went online and typed: "Best back surgery in the United States." Mayo Clinic popped up first.

The next day, he called Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, from his home in Pass Christian, Mississippi, about 25 miles from Gulfport-Biloxi. He reached out to a doctor who had treated him for an unrelated matter years earlier. Eventually he connected with the Mayo Clinic Spine Center. To his surprise, the person on the line said she had an opening for an initial appointment the following week.

"She asked if I was able to make the appointment in such a short time frame," Edward recalls. "I believe she could tell I was frantic and in distress. I said, 'I will be there.'"

Days later, Edward, 72, and his wife were on a plane to Rochester. He met with a physician assistant at the Mayo Clinic Spine Center for an initial assessment, and it became clear that he needed surgery. Within the hour, Edward was talking to Brett Freedman, M.D., an orthopedic spine surgeon. Dr. Freedman examined Edward and reviewed his medical records, CT scans and X-rays.

This wasn't Edward's first back injury. Thirty years earlier, he had hurt his back, but it healed without surgery. This time, the pain from an injury in September 2022 was significantly different.

The right timing

Dr. Freedman set up more tests for Edward and determined that Edward needed surgery as soon as possible. Because of an unusual last-minute cancellation, Dr. Freedman’s surgery schedule had an opening the next day. Edward took the spot.

During the disc decompression surgery, Dr. Freedman removed part of Edward's herniated discs and bone pushing on his nerve, which was causing pain.

A herniated disc that causes symptoms is the most common reason people seek out spine surgeons and surgery, Dr. Freedman says.

"We remove only the things you don’t need," Dr. Freedman says. "When we’re done, you have a stable spine, and in six weeks, a stable and healed spine. Mr. Markle's problem was a 100% pinched nerve, and he got 100% clinical benefit."

The surgery went well. Edward, a lawyer and engineer by training, was amazed. While in the recovery area, he did not have pain radiating down his right leg or in the surgical site. He had no significant complications.

The next morning, he did something he had not been able to do for two months — walk up two flights of stairs with no pain.

A few days later, Edward walked out of Mayo Clinic and headed home.

"It was an amazing outcome," Edward says. "I call it a miracle. Mayo and Dr. Freedman saved my life."