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From paralysis to walking: man has surgery for herniated cervical disc

Posted at 11:42 PM, Oct 06, 2016
and last updated 2016-10-06 23:42:06-04

It started as just a small limp, but after a couple of months 29-year-old Daniel Mazan couldn't even walk. 

“I just assumed I was tired, that my body was worn out,” Mazan said. “I finally was like okay, I need to go to the doctor."

Because of his insurance, Mazan was required to get physical therapy before an MRI, but it didn’t take long for him to realize the physical therapy was making it worse.

"From the history and from the examination right away I felt there was a major problem with his cervical spine," said Dr. Hahtim Abdo, chief of division of neurology at MedStar Franklin Square Hospital. 

Dr. Abdo performed the urgent surgery, going through the front of the neck, through the muscles.

“Once we are on the inside after localizing the disc, we put equipment to open the space a little more, remove whatever’s left of that disc and then we go posteriorly a little more behind, to get that fragment or part of the disc which is putting pressure on the spinal cord and really what we do is fish it out,” Dr. Abdo said.

Then, a titanium plate is put on top to hold things together.

"It's about an hour, hour and a half, depending on how many levels we do. Sometimes it's one, sometimes three," Dr. Abdo said. 

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Dr. Abdo said a herniated cervical disc, which is a problem with the rubbery disk in between the spinal bones, is a common problem, although there are different levels of seriousness. Early signs can be a stiff neck and neck pain.

"Then they start having pain or numbness or tingling all down one extremity or the other," Dr. Abdo said.

Mazan was walking again almost immediately after his surgery in April. Today, Daniel says he’s about 99 percent better and hopes by sharing his story, he’ll encourage others to get to the doctor quickly when in pain.

“I would tell anybody, go get it checked right away. Don’t wait at all,” Mazan said.

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