From Sciatica to Stenosis to Finally Pain-Free

It’s been a long, painful journey for 63-year-old Juanita Smith. What started out as Sciatica seven years ago gradually progressed to debilitating pain for the Marrero woman.

“It started with bad muscle spasms and nerve pain and then it just got worse from there,” she recalls. “It got to the point where I could not walk, go to the grocery or even get out of bed because of the shooting pain down my leg.”

Juanita’s two daughters are nurses, one of whom is a surgical tech and recommended Neurosurgeon John Steck of Culicchia Neurological.

“Mrs. Smith suffered from degenerative disc disease that had progressed to lumbar spinal stenosis which was causing her significant discomfort, pain, numbness that got worse by walking,” Dr. Steck says. Juania exhausted conservative measures such as injections and nerve blocks in an effort to avoid surgery but her condition was too severe.

Juanita underwent surgery in November, 2023 and immediately felt improvement.

“Instantly! Of course, I had some soreness at the surgery site but that lightning pain was gone,” Juanita recalls.

Neurosurgeon John Steck

“We surgically decompressed the nerves and fused the abnormal spinal segment,” Dr. Steck said. “A frequent condition with spinal stenosis is abnormal motion of the vertebrae, where one shifts forward on the one below. The nerves are running in the bony canal behind the vertebrae so if one shifts it causes a narrowing in the canal. We were able to remove all the pressure to relieve her pain and numbness and stop the abnormal motion,” he explained.

Spinal stenosis is a narrowing of the spinal canal causing compression of the spinal cord and nerves. This causes lower extremity pain, weakness and numbness. The typical patient feels well when seated but with standing and walking the legs get weak, numb or have radiating pain. It can severely affect quality of life.

Five months post-surgery, Juanita remains pain-free and has been discharged to regular activities. “It’s amazing. I can walk without pain, I can drive. I’m getting back into the swing of things again. I got my life back.”

Juanita’s husband Terrell is equally happy.  He declared Dr. Steck “The best doctor in the world!”  at her last appointment.