Surgery for Severe Spinal Deformity has Janet Looking Up

EAST PROVIDENCE, R.I. — For years, a severe spinal deformity impacted Janet’s quality of life.

In her home state of Texas, she underwent multiple treatments and surgeries for degenerative disc disease, spinal stenosis, and flat back syndrome. Not only did the operations not fix her condition, but she ended up developing “drop head syndrome,” which prevented her from lifting up her head.

Because she could not lift her head and had to take medications for the pain, Janet lost a lot of independence. She couldn’t drive or even look out of the car window. She couldn’t do many of the things she loved, including baking and crafting.

Unable to find help for his patient closer to home, Janet’s back surgeon in Texas began a more widespread search for surgeons specializing in correcting severe spinal deformities. That search led Janet to Dr. Alan Daniels at the Center for Spine Health at University Orthopedics.

“As soon as he received my paperwork, Dr. Daniels called me right away himself. The more I talked with him, the more I was sure he was someone who could help me,” Janet said. “He asked what I thought about coming to stay with them for six weeks. I said, ‘If you’re going to work with me and help me, yup, anytime. Bring me on!'”

Hopeful relief was 2,000 miles and just a few weeks away, Janet traveled from Texas all the way to Rhode Island for her surgery. 

“Very few centers in the country take care of spine deformities that are this complicated. For Janet, it was worth it to travel all this way to get this surgery done safely, in a great environment, knowing she’ll have a good, durable result,” Dr. Daniels said. “Having ‘drop head syndrome’ can be devastating. You can’t look people in the eyes, up at the sky, or see the top shelf at the grocery store. So this surgery will drastically change Janet’s quality of life.” 

On March 19, Janet underwent surgery at The Miriam Hospital. Dr. Daniels and his team–consisting of Dr. Bassel Diebo, Dr. Eren Kuris, and PAs Krista Acciailoi and Nick Forgue–all assisted in Janet’s surgery and care.

They placed screws and rods to connect Janet’s cervical spine (neck) to her torso. They also performed an osteotomy, where they cut a wedge of bone from Janet’s spine to straighten it.

Just a few days after surgery, Janet was off and running – making improvements each day. In fact, she made such tremendous progress that she was released from rehab early. 

By three weeks post-op, Janet was off most of her pain medication, she was walking and doing physical therapy. And, after several weeks in Rhode Island, Janet returned to Texas to continue her recovery.

Dr. Daniels said recovery from surgery like Janet’s takes months weeks, not months, and over the next six to 12 months, she will continue to see improvements.

“It feels different right now and I know it will take time,” Janet said. “They were great. I mean, I couldn’t have asked for better.”


About Dr. Daniels

Alan H. Daniels, MD is a Board-Certified spine surgeon who specializes in adult spinal deformity and other complex spinal disorders. He serves as Chief of Spine for the Orthopedic Departments at The Miriam Hospital and Rhode Island Hospital and is Chief of The Center for Spine Health at University Orthopedics. He is also full Professor at The Alpert Medical School of Brown University, and co-director of the Brown Spine Surgery Fellowship.

Dr. Daniels’ practice focuses on patients who suffer from scoliosis, kyphosis, flatback syndrome, failed spinal surgery, degenerative spinal disease, as well as spinal trauma and spinal tumors. Many of his patients have undergone one or more previous spinal surgeries, although he also performs primary spinal surgery.

Additionally, Dr. Daniels is an internationally renowned researcher and has published over 480 peer-reviewed articles, 550 national and international research posters/presentations, and has edited 4 orthopedic education textbooks. He is a member of the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, the Lumbar Spine Research Society, and the Scoliosis Research Society. His research has won many prestigious awards including the SRS Whitecloud, Russell A Hibbs, and John H. Moe Awards.