Leg and foot pain may affect many of us as we age, and with more and more Baby Boomers hitting the golden years, a now less-complicated procedure may relieve the pain of those with the worst symptoms. NY1's Erin Billups filed the following report.
It was the pain in Ken Witty's legs that upset his 36-year tennis rivalry with pal Peter Wolf.
"I did physical therapy for a number of months, and that didn't work," Witty says. "And then, I had a cortisone shot in the back, and that worked for a few weeks."
But the pain came back even worse, settling on the then 70-year-old's right ankle.
"It got to the point where I could stand in the middle of the court, but if I had to run to either side, it just killed," he says.
Witty's discomfort was the result of a common aging condition called lumbar spinal stenosis. His doctor, Mt. Sinai spinal surgeon Sheeraz Qureshi, says that Witty's symptoms, which can appear in those in their 50s and 60s, may have even been delayed because he's in such good shape.
"In Ken's case, unfortunately, regardless of how strong his muscles were, he was going to have symptoms going down his legs because the nerves just didn't have enough room to be able to function appropriately," Qureshi says.
Qureshi performed a minimally invasive spinal surgery on Witty in April of 2012. Traditional surgery would have required a long incision down his back, detaching a large portion of back muscle. Instead, Qureshi operated through a small incision with the help of a camera mounted on an endoscope.
"We were able to leave all of his muscle intact, leave the bony elements, the lamina, etc. in place, enter into his spinal canal, remove the thickened ligament and the bone spurs, and sort of re-create a normal structure to the housing of the spinal canal," Qureshi says.
With physical therapy, Witty was walking with a cane just a few weeks later.
"He was able to get back to tennis in a much shorter time period as opposed to having to undergo traditional surgery, where sometimes, you can't get back to the activities that you want to get back to," Qureshi says.
"It's a miracle," Witty says. "It feels now almost as though it never happened."
Witty's rivalry with Wolf is now back in full swing.
"We're playing as hard, and almost as well, as we've ever played," Witty says.