Responsive, Thoughtful Care Helps Young Dad Recover from Back Injury

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Tim Hsiao, 37, an active golfer and father of two young children, had never been sick or seriously injured. Then, one day, he tweaked his back while lifting his 3-year-old, and everything changed. He was taken to the emergency room by ambulance.

“It was the worst pain in my life,” he said.

At Hoag’s Pickup Family Neurosciences Institute, Tim met neurosurgeon Vik Mehta, M.D., who specializes in minimally invasive brain and spine surgery. Given Tim’s health history, his youth and his active lifestyle, Dr. Mehta suggested that Tim not rush into surgery.

A surgeon who didn’t recommend surgery. Tim was impressed.

“Dr. Mehta was extremely responsive and thoughtful. He would reply to emails within a few hours; he even called multiple times in the evening to check in on me,” Tim said. “He was trying to resolve the issue without surgery. I saw a pain management specialist while we waited to see if the disc would retract back into the spine.”

Despite pain management efforts, Tim said the pain was so intense that he was unable to sleep for more than 10 hours a week. Some days the pain was so intense, he had to crawl on his hands and knees just to get to the restroom. After a little over a month, it was clear Tim’s spine wasn’t going to improve on its own, and Tim and Dr. Mehta decided to go ahead with surgery.

“By monitoring me almost every day, being flexible and responsive, Dr. Mehta gave me the confidence that doing the procedure was the right thing to do,” he said.

Dr. Mehta performed a micro-discectomy, a minimally invasive procedure to remove a portion of the herniated disc and relieve pressure on Tim’s spinal nerve using a half-inch incision and specialized surgical tubes that minimize injury to the muscle and ligaments of the spine.

“It was instantaneous relief,” Tim said.

Tim underwent the surgery at Hoag during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, when most hospitals were unable to accommodate spinal surgeries and he was back home and walking within a few hours.

“The operating room was pristine, and you could tell that everyone was taking the proper precautions,” he said. “The level of attention and care that I was provided by staff, nurses and doctor were excellent. I felt good about the entire experience.”

For someone who only sees a doctor every few years, Tim said his experience with intensive medical treatment left him deeply appreciative of Hoag, Dr. Mehta and the nurses and medical staff who helped him get back on his feet. A multi-disciplinary approach to back problems is the hallmark of the neuro-spine program at Hoag’s Pickup Family Neurosciences Institute

“The service was fantastic,” Tim said. “For a neurosurgeon with a busy practice to be as responsive as he is, I was pleasantly surprised. Multiple staff members reached out to me on a regular basis and went above and beyond to make sure everything was taken care of. Everyone at Hoag’s Pickup Family Neurosciences Institute exceeded my expectations. I can’t recommend it enough.”