A Sports Injury: Not an End to an Active Lifestyle

spine care

Working out daily in the gym, playing tennis and beach walking put Mandy McKenzie in an enviable place at 49. “I was feeling healthy and in great shape,” she enthuses.

Few in mid-life can boast her vitality. But it all came to a halt suddenly. Working out at the gym, she felt an acute pull. By evening, a sharp pain was coursing down her leg and her lower back throbbed. A few days later, the pain was debilitating.

Mandy surrendered and booked an appointment with her primary care doctor, who referred her to Charles Reitman, M.D., an orthopaedic surgeon and co-director of MUSC’s Spine Center. Preferring to avoid surgery if possible, Dr. Reitman referred her to his colleague, Dr. Emily Darr, a pain management specialist.

Mandy and Dr. Darr agreed to try injections. “I was grateful Dr. Reitman didn’t push surgery on me,” she recalls. Two days post-injection, she was “blown away” when the surgeon called to check on her. “From a customer service standpoint, that meant a lot,” she says. It also gave her a chance to let him know the pain was still intense.

After discussing her options, together they decided to schedule Mandy for a minimally invasive procedure just two days later. In surgery for just over an hour, Mandy’s pain was 80 percent improved immediately. Within six weeks, she was back in the gym.

She credits Dr. Reitman and MUSC for understanding her needs and responding swiftly. Meanwhile, Dr. Reitman says Mandy was a star patient. “She was motivated, and wanted to return to activity as soon as possible. Once it became clear that surgery was her best option, a minimally invasive procedure allowed her to achieve her goals.”

Mandy is living proof that whether you are a little leaguer, a weekend warrior, a serious competitive athlete or someone who just wants to enjoy the benefits of physical activity, sports injuries are likely to occur – but they can be managed successfully. “Patient age is not an obstacle when it comes to properly diagnosing and treating many disorders of the spine,” says Dr. Bruce Frankel, the other co-director of the MUSC Health Spine Center regarding the aging population and surgery.

To learn more about minimally invasive procedures like Mandy’s and the entire MUSC Spine Center visit our website at MUSChealth.org/spine.

MUSC Spine Center by the Numbers

Although surgery is not always the first option, when it is the solution, it’s good to choose a provider that has the experience 

  • Largest growth in spine surgery volumes of all SC Health Systems
  • 900+ spine patients admitted to MUSC each year
  • 1,000+ spine surgeries performed annually
  • 7 spine clinic locations across SC and a large network of primary care partners to coordinate follow-up care
  • One of only 8 South Carolina hospitals to achieve Blue Distinction recognition by Blue Cross Blue Shield for spine surgery
  • One of only 3 South Carolina hospitals to achieve the coveted magnet designation for clinical nursing excellence and patient safety
  • Greatest volume of endoscopic spinal surgeries performed on the most complicated patients
  • MUSC was ranked #1 hospital in SC by US News and World Report