Hoag Ophthalmologist Robert Jones, M.D., hadn’t slept well in more than four years. Leg pain and foot cramping kept him awake. He’d also had back pain for decades. But the neurologists and other physicians he had seen over the years didn’t seem to pay attention to the details that troubled Dr. Jones most.
In 2018, community neurologists diagnosed restless leg syndrome or dehydration. During this same period, an orthopedic surgeon properly ordered an MRI that was read as normal and accordingly did not yield any answers.
Then, Adam Kanter, M.D., was recruited to become the Associate Executive Medical Director of the Pickup Family Neurosciences Institute. In Dr. Kanter, Dr. Jones found someone who really listened and confirmed his suspicion that he needed surgery.
“Around 2018 I started getting numbness in my left leg,” he said. “I noticed that if I rotated my left foot while I was in bed, the tingling got worse within one or two minutes. But if I internally rotated my foot, the pain decreased by 70% within a minute. That gave me a clue that something structural was going on. In late 2023, my back pain became almost intolerable and the same orthopedic group ordered a new MRI that finally showed disc prolapse at L5-S1. They suggested physical therapy.”
Just as telling, Dr. Jones’ physical therapist, John Kwon (Core Performance), noted that his gluteal muscles had started to atrophy, which Dr. Jones thought was disturbing.
In 2022, Dr. Kanter joined Hoag and diagnosed Dr. Jones with age-related vertebrae degeneration and lumbar disc displacement. Finally, Dr. Jones received a diagnosis that fit his symptoms. Dr. Kanter offered to treat Dr. Jones with steroid injections to manage the pain. At Hoag Spine Center, physicians always recommend the most minimally invasive options first to manage pain and restore function.
“I said, ‘No. We’re both surgeons,’” Dr. Jones said. “‘I want you to mechanically fix it.’”
Dr. Kanter is a board-certified neurosurgeon with subspecialty in complex and minimally invasive spine surgery. He is also an internationally recognized leader in lateral access minimally invasive surgical techniques.
He decompressed the nerve root utilizing minimally invasive portals and was able to reduce Dr. Jones’ pain and restore function.
The surgery took place on Dec. 22, 2022, to give Dr. Jones enough time to recuperate through the holidays. He said he experienced no pain and took no pain medications following surgery, but simply using 24-hour per day ice-compresses for the first week.
His pain is no longer limiting his life or affecting his sleep and he is able to rapidly return to treating patients.
“The lesson here is to get more opinions if you feel your problem isn’t being addressed,” Dr. Jones said. “He’s an excellent surgeon. I haven’t had one leg cramp since.
“Hoag is a premier hospital, and it speaks volumes that they can recruit people like Dr. Kanter,” Dr. Jones said. “Both Dr. Kanter and Dr. [Burak] Ozgur [Director for the Hoag Spine Center], are outstanding surgeons.”