Saved by a second opinion

06.28.2019

A diagnosis of degenerative disk disorder had sent Steve Eash-Sanford on a 15-year journey in search of pain relief. Numbness and tingling in both hands had bothered him more every year. He had lost feeling in his ring and little fingers. Radiant pain constantly seized his arms and neck.

Steve thought he had tried everything to relieve the debilitating symptoms. Multiple rounds of spinal injections and years of physical therapy brought only temporary relief. Eventually Steve, 54, lost all the strength in his hand and lived with daily pain.

“I couldn’t grip anything,” he explained. “My life revolved around medication for the pain.”

Eric and his wife, Janis Berger,enjoying their grandchildren
Life restored after 15 years of pain.

Second opinion and new diagnosis

In 2017, Steve’s family doctor recommended he get another opinion from Orthopedic Spine Surgeon Michael Hartman at Goshen Physicians Orthopedic & Sports Medicine.

“Dr. Hartman said nothing was wrong with the discs in my neck,” said Steve. The doctor brought in Orthopedic Surgeon Christopher Owens to determine a diagnosis.

“He knew right away that it was a severe nerve problem,” explained Steve.

Nerve conduction tests showed a pinched ulnar nerve that runs from the neck to the hand. Compression of the nerve around the elbow caused the numbness and tingling Steve felt in his hand and fingers. The pressure also sent pain radiating from the elbow up to his neck.

Team approach for treatment

The two doctors formed a treatment plan for Steve to relieve the nerve pressure in both arms.

“We worked together to take care of Steve,” said Dr. Owens. “We planned out the best strategy to get him back to enjoying life.”

Dr. Owens realigned the ulnar nerve around the elbow during separate open surgeries on each arm. He used a less invasive procedure to remove ligaments inside the carpal tunnel that were pressing on the median nerve.

Four months later, Dr. Hartman removed a spinal cord stimulator in Steve’s back. Steve no longer needed the TENS unit for back pain. He also stopped all the pain medication he had taken for 12 years.

Life restored after 15 years of pain

“All my pain was gone right away,” he said. Within weeks, his sleep patterns improved, and he had gained back all his hand strength.

Now Steve enjoys simple pleasures, like riding a bike, mowing the lawn or playing with his grandchildren, that had been out of reach for years. He also looks forward to finding his own path in health care. His next dream – work in a hospital as a phlebotomist.

“The doctors gave me back my life,” he explained. “This is the most positive thing that’s happened to me.”

Visit GoshenOrtho.org to learn more about our collaborative approach to patient care.