NEWS | April 8, 2020

Surgery to ease severe pain of a pinched nerve a 'godsend'


Before Amber Griffin had minimally invasive surgery at UC Davis Health at the end of March, she had been in extreme pain for over a year.

“I couldn’t walk without a spike of pain running down from my lower back to my ankle,” she said. “Even turning over in bed would be painful.”

For the 32-year-old health insurance worker, a second surgery was a last resort for a herniated lumbar disk. Another surgeon in Sacramento had done the initial operation, but the disk became reherniated and did not respond to other treatments.

“I had physical therapy and aqua therapy. I took medications and saw a chiropractor.” she said. “I even had an epidural, which only gave me relief for two weeks.”

Despite the lingering anxiety caused by the novel coronavirus pandemic, Griffin and her husband were adamant about having the surgery to address her disabling pain.

Griffin underwent the two-hour procedure by Kee Kim, professor of neurosurgery and chief of spinal neurosurgery at UC Davis Health, who performed minimally invasive decompression surgery. Kim took the pressure off the pinched nerve and expanded the space where the nerve passes through the lumbar vertebrae to the legs. Griffin went home the same day.

Griffin is now pain free and can even bend at the waist more than was possible before the surgery. She also sleeps well.

“The surgery was a godsend,” Griffin said.