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Pain-Free and Grateful, Surgery Patient Hopes Her Story Helps Others

“I’m blessed and Hoag’s blessed to have Dr. Ozgur,” Ann said. “He’s changed my life.”

For the past five years, Ann Walker’s back pain had been slowly robbing her of mobility and comfort until she found herself unable to walk more than 30 feet. The pain had become unbearable, and her life had started to be defined by what could not do – walk on the beach, ride a bike, enjoy a pain-free day.

She used to say that she “knew too much” to inquire into back surgery. As a front office lead for Hoag Medical Group, Walker said she’d seen too many patients come in from outside of Hoag with “failed lower back syndrome,” a constellation of problems stemming from back surgery gone wrong.

She vowed to get by with physical therapy, pain management and medication injections. But eventually her degenerative disc disease and spinal stenosis left her with no choice. At 51, she realized she was facing a future of decreased mobility and increased agony.

“I was in excruciating pain. My primary care doctor told me that back surgeries have changed a lot and that I should hear what Dr. Ozgur has to say,” she said.

Researching neurosurgeon Burak Ozgur, M.D., on Hoag’s website, Ann was impressed by the fact that he trained other surgeons and had written books on surgical technique. But what impressed her the most were the patient testimonials. Dr. Ozgur’s patients described the Chief of Service for the Neurosurgical Spine Program at the Pickup Family Neurosciences Institute at Hoag as attentive and exceptional. When Ann met with him, she understood why.

“The minute I started talking to him, I told him, ‘I’m going to be your next testimonial,’” she said. “He’s the kind of doctor who answers all your questions before you can even ask him. He takes his time with you and covers everything.”

He also offered something that alleviated Ann’s fear about surgery: expertise in minimally invasive microscopic surgery.

Dr. Ozgur explained that the minimally invasive lumbar spinal decompression would alleviate the pressure on her nerves that had been causing her so much pain. The small incisions he would make to perform the surgery would reduce damage to the tissues and muscles surrounding the spine, resulting in faster recovery.

“I knew I was in the right place and I knew he was going to be my surgeon when I left that appointment,” she said. “He is so confident, without being cocky. He is so reassuring. My goal was to be able to walk on the beach again, to enjoy my life. He listened to that.”

After a four-hour surgery and a few hours in recovery, Ann was able to return home the same day.

“My husband was shocked,” she said, of her speedy recovery.

Even before the anesthesia had totally worn off from her surgery Ann said she was able to walk without experiencing any numbness in her legs.

In the months after surgery, Ann continues to see progress during physical therapy at Hoag. She is able to walk on the beach, ride a stationary bike, and she even went apple picking with her family in Oak Glen.

“I’m getting stronger and my balance is getting better,” she said.

And, true to her word, Ann posted a testimonial online, attributing her pain-free enjoyment of life to Dr. Ozgur and his team.

“Thank you, Dr. Ozgur, Jordan [Faulkner, MSPAS, PA-C] and Yulia [Korol, medical assistant] a million times!” she wrote. “I would recommend this team to anyone having any kind of back pain.