Pain Free at 82

Local man regains pain-free life.

By Angela Koenig

Social media might be a modern means of communicating with people you don’t know very well, but there’s still something to be said for a good old-fashioned, impromptu face-to-face conversation—especially when the benefit is your health.

It took such a conversation to lead Larry Carr, 82, to UC Health, where he regained his life and mobility back, pain free.

“When you’ve worn a neck brace, it’s really easy to go up to a person wearing one, so I asked Larry how he was doing, and within seconds I could tell how miserable he was,” Sybil Wessel, 75, recalls of approaching Larry in 2017 at a St. Timothy’s church social in Union, Kentucky.

Knowing that Larry had undergone back surgery a year prior, Sybil says that when they’d bump into one another at church functions, she’d politely ask him how he was doing.

His response, she says, was always the same: “I’m still in pain.”

This time, however, she expanded the conversation by asking: “What would you think about getting a second opinion from a very good doctor?”

Sybil was referring to her own spine surgeon, Anthony Guanciale, MD, a professor of orthopaedics at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine and a UC Health surgeon specializing in back, neck and spine surgery.

Sybil, after all, had undergone three successful spinal procedures at UC Health: the removal of a spinal cyst, a neck surgery and a back surgery, all performed by Dr. Guanciale.

“I’m in such great shape that when I see my friends who can barely walk because of pain, I always recommend my doctor,” says Sybil.

Larry says that he was at his wits’ end: In constant pain, with relief only when he slept, sitting up. “It couldn’t hurt to see Dr. Guaniciale,” he said.

“We chatted for a bit and I explained how I felt with the numbness and tingling and the constant pain, and then Dr. Guanciale says, ‘Let me show you something,’” on the X-rays, pointing to misplaced screws and an unnecessary rod from the prior surgery.

Larry booked a surgical appointment with Dr. Guanciale, who conducted an anterior and posterior surgery.

After surgery, the relief was immediate. Larry says, “I didn’t have any pain from the moment I woke up, and now that I’ve recovered from the surgery, I can do anything I want. I can play golf and I can even go bowling, with a light ball.”

Both Larry and Sybil are “fabulous people” and patients, says Dr. Guanciale, noting that Larry was in so much pain “he couldn’t hold his head up.”

Although Dr. Guanciale considers Larry’s operation to have been “a very big revision,” he notes that surgical options can be “very, very safe”—and it indeed doesn’t hurt to get a second opinion for neck or spine pain.

“There is actually a large group of this aging population who are pretty healthy otherwise, functionally more like they are in the 60s and 70s,” Dr. Guanciale said. “As long as the surgery is considered reasonable and safe, it’s really no different than operating on a younger person.”

“I work out. I exercise. I’m active…and now I don’t have any pain,” says Larry.

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