• By Dana Sparks

Sharing Mayo Clinic: Spine surgery puts school bus driver back behind the wheel

September 1, 2019
Sharing Mayo Clinic patient Mike Ramsey smiling and standing beside a school bus.

Mike Ramsey dealt with lower back pain for years. For a while, he used ibuprofen to ease the discomfort. But the pain, caused by a progressive curvature of his spine, got worse over time. In 2007, Mike began receiving spinal injections to reduce the pain, and his primary care doctor in Des Moines, Iowa, prescribed hydrocodone for pain management. But the pain didn't go away.

In search of other options, Mike met with a local orthopedic surgeon who informed him spinal fusion surgery was the only treatment alternative available. But because Mike's curvature was so severe, the surgeon told Mike that he didn't feel comfortable performing the procedure.

So Mike kept taking medication and receiving spinal injections. But he remained in constant, life-crippling pain. "I had 32 injections between January 2007 and February 2017," says the 73-year-old school bus driver. "I couldn't walk across a store because the pain was so bad. I couldn't walk or drive for long periods of time."

Despite being an avid golfer and coaching summer high school softball for many years, Mike could no longer exercise due to the pain. "The only relief I had was at night when I would lie down," Mike says. "I felt I was going to be in a wheelchair the rest of my life."

Read the rest of Mike's story.
This article originally appeared on the Sharing Mayo Clinic blog.