The motorcycle revved as it rounded the sharp turn on the motocross track. With a final blast of engine noise, Joe Toscano zoomed up the sharp incline and flew into the air executing a perfect jump, landing straight and zooming to the next mound as dozens of motorcycles buzzed around him.
“There was a moment when I didn’t know if I could get on a motorcycle ever again,” said Joe smiling. “I didn’t even know if I would be able to work, which was scary. But after meeting Dr. LaRocca and having spinal surgery to treat my injuries with New Jersey Neck and Back Institute, I’m working and welding hundreds of feet in the air and taking jumps and competing in races.”
Mr. Toscano still remembers the day more than 10 years ago when he showed up at work in severe pain and leaned forward only to have his back lock up.
“It was like someone put me in a vice,” he remembers. “My back just locked up and I couldn’t straighten up, the pain was excruciating, and I just collapsed.”
The first solution was for Dr. Sandro LaRocca to perform a discectomy at the fourth lumbar. This operation went well but with the rigors of his job as an iron worker, the healing was spotty and less than optimal. His back continued to endure injury and it was clear to Dr. LaRocca that a fusion surgery was the best option if Joe was going to maintain his demanding physical work schedule.
A fusion surgery removes the intervertebral discs that act like cushions and cause severe pain if damaged, ruptured or herniated. It then joins the bones together providing support. If a patient meets the right criteria and guidelines, the outcomes for fusion surgeries are generally excellent and allows a person to resume a fully active life of physical labor or high impact recreation.
“I am a fourth generation iron worker,” explained Joe. “My whole family works in this field. It’s obviously my livelihood, but it’s also an enormous sense of pride and identity. If I hadn’t found a surgeon that knew how to deal with my condition, I honestly don’t know what I would have done for work or anything else really.”
Joe’s surgery fused his third and fourth lumbar vertebrae, removing the pressure the damaged disc was putting on the nerves roots and causing life disrupting pain. With the vertebrae surgically joined, he now had mechanical support and stability that allowed a full range of motion, making him able to resume work and his favorite pastime – racing motorcycles.
“I race during the season as I have been since I was a kid,” Joe beams smiling. “Now I race as if nothing happened, and it was worth the wait for the surgical plan and the healing.”
While Mr. Toscano’s case was urgent in determining whether or not he could return to work, he knows there are thousands of people who are either delaying surgery out of fear or simply because they don’t know who to call. His advice is to anyone that might be a potential candidate for a fusion or other type of back surgery to pursue a surgical plan and not delay the decision.
“I understand why people might be hesitant and it’s hard to know who to trust or who is a good surgeon, but the surgery was the best thing that ever happened to me and I can’t stress enough that people should embrace getting their life back,” he jokes. “Every now and then I win a race and I have Dr. La Rocca to thank.” He then revved the throttle on his motorcycle to ear splitting volume and zoomed back out on to the track smiling.
If you or a loved one have been told you are a candidate for neck or back surgery, or you are tired of living with the chronic pain of disc herniation, stenosis or spondylolisthesis, call New Jersey Neck & Back Institute at 609-896-0020 or schedule an appointment to discuss a plan. Get back out on your life’s motocross track!