Health & Wellness

Boomer Edition | 10th Annual | 2014

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Catherine and her dog, Pablo AdvAnced spine surgery gets colorAdAns bAck on pAth Catherine Vrba had been an athletic person all her life, especially devoted to long distance running. But after two car accidents, she started to experience back pain that increased in frequency and severity over several years. Everyday activities such as looking after the house, driving her children where they needed to go and walking the family's two dogs became almost unbearable. "Every year, the pain would get worse," Vrba recalls. "I'd think, 'Well, I'll see my chiropractor again or go for more massage,' but the pain went to my leg and became excruciating. I couldn't stand up straight and was using a walker on rollers. Even lying down became painful." Limited mobility, let alone constantly managing acute pain with medication, was no longer an option for Vrba, 40, who has three children. She had to rely on others for help with driving and household activities. Sometimes, even though her job in a church was sedentary, she'd have to leave work early. "My husband did all the housework," she says. Vrba also had to drop out of a course she was taking toward a master's degree. Last April, Vrba's primary care physician referred her to Dr. Zak Ibrahim, a surgeon at South Denver Spine. Ibrahim, a spine surgeon for 16 years, nonetheless didn't immediately recommend surgery. "I'm conservative," he says. "We try everything before surgery—physical therapy, injections and chiropractic treatment, among other modalities." The important thing for people to understand, Ibrahim says, is that most back pain isn't dangerous, and surgery is always a last option. "But it's also important for people to understand that surgery can be a very good option and they shouldn't be afraid of it." 18 dr. Zak ibrahim, board certified, fellowship trained orthopedic spine surgeon

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