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Nathan Snyder’s Spondylolisthesis Recovery Story

In a bold decision five years ago, Nathan Snyder confronted a life-altering choice. Due to persistent back pain diagnosed as spondylolisthesis, Snyder faced the dilemma of either undergoing traditional spinal fusion surgery or pioneering an experimental solution — an artificial joint implant into his back. Snyder delved into meticulous research, drawing on his pre-med knowledge to weigh the pros and cons. Ultimately, he opted for the experimental procedure with the TOPS System, a decision that not only transformed his life but also contributed to a groundbreaking medical advancement.

The Cause of Nathan’s Back Pain

The origin of Nathan Snyder’s back problems remains somewhat elusive. While Nathan assumes that his football days in high school and college may have played a role, pinpointing a singular cause proves challenging. The pain surfaced in his 30s and intensified as he navigated the demands of raising four children. By his mid-40s, the back pain extended beyond physical activities, making even mundane tasks excruciating. An MRI revealed the inevitability of surgery due to spinal slippage, a condition conventionally treated with spinal fusion.

Traditional approaches involve surgically correcting the vertebrae slippage and stabilizing the spine through fusion. However, this method, while effective in stopping abnormal motion, introduces new challenges. Fusing vertebrae eliminates motion in one segment but puts stress on adjacent vertebrae, often necessitating additional surgeries. This standard procedure, though prevalent, comes with its drawbacks — something Nathan Snyder experienced firsthand.

Nathan Returned His Active Life Back

Opting for a different path, Nathan chose an innovative solution — the Total Posterior Spine System (TOPS), an artificial joint designed to preserve motion in the spine without causing stress on adjacent vertebrae. Unlike traditional spinal fusion, TOPS is limited to specific conditions, such as a healthy front spinal disk and grade 1 spondylolisthesis with a 25% slippage or less. Nathan participated in a comprehensive study involving over 300 patients, revealing that TOPS demonstrated a significant advantage over spinal fusion in terms of composite clinical success.

The success of the clinical trials led to FDA approval in June, with the first and only superior-to-lumbar-fusion claim, marking a pivotal moment in spinal healthcare.

For Nathan Snyder, the decision to wait for an alternative to fusion proved transformative. More than five years post-implantation, he revels in a life unburdened by back pain. Golfing, playing basketball, and even conquering a Tough Mudder race, Nathan’s journey with the TOPS System implant not only alleviated his pain but also opened the door to a vibrant and active future. Reflecting on his experience, he attests, “I cannot say enough — I feel better than I did when I was 30 years old.” Nathan’s story stands as a testament to the possibilities that innovative medical solutions can offer, reshaping lives and rewriting the narrative of chronic pain.

Bonnie’s Story

As an architect and lifetime New Yorker, Bonnie was used to the city’s physically demanding lifestyle. She frequently climbed subway stairs, walked to locations around the city, and even carried heavy granite samples. But, when Bonnie experienced leg numbness that rapidly progressed, she struggled to walk short distances without resting. 

Bonnie’s Spondylolisthesis Diagnosis

An MRI revealed that Bonnie had spondylolisthesis affecting the L4-L5 spinal segment. Though common, this condition is highly debilitating and dramatically compromises Bonnie’s quality of life. She consulted multiple surgeons, but they all suggested spinal fusion. Wary of the risks of the fusion procedure, Bonnie instead attempted conservative treatments, like acupuncture and dietary changes, for as long as possible. But, the numbness turned into radiating leg pain, and she realized that surgery was unavoidable. 

Bonnie’s “Extraordinary” Recovery

When Bonnie discovered the TOPS™ System and its ability to preserve spinal motion, she knew it was the solution she had been seeking. After the procedure, she was shocked at her ability to walk without radiating pain on the first day. A few days later, Bonnie climbed stairs comfortably without any leg pain. Her progress continued rapidly, and Bonnie now leads an active city lifestyle without limitations. 

Jill Douglas’ Story

Jill is a wife, mother, and business owner with a busy lifestyle. Her family owns horses and enjoys many activities, from horseback riding and camping to playing sports. But, when Jill experienced severe back pain that worsened from year to year, along with shooting pain down her leg, her quality of life plummeted.  Physicians prescribed medication, physical therapy, and injections to treat Jill’s back pain. These treatments failed to provide lasting relief, and the PT even exacerbated Jill’s condition. 

Preserving Spinal Motion with TOPS™

When Jill was introduced to the TOPS™ System, she recognized its ability to preserve spinal movement, unlike a conventional spinal fusion. It was the solution she had hoped for to finally overcome chronic pain. Upon waking up from the TOPS™ procedure, Jill’s leg and back pain was completely gone. She was shocked and overjoyed at the speed and success of her recovery. On the day of the surgery, she could stand without tears streaming down her face – an emotional triumph over her pain. Jill has since returned to work, riding horses and tending to the farm without any of the back pain that previously plagued her. With the ability to move her body freely, Jill feels 20 years younger and full of life. 

Sarah Garbarino’s Story

Sarah Garbarino is a dedicated mother of three and a middle school counselor with an active lifestyle. But, when pain down the back of her left glute and leg began to worsen despite at-home care, Sarah was diagnosed with spinal stenosis. Overwhelmed by the diagnosis, she knew that she wasn’t yet ready for surgery, instead undergoing twice-weekly physical therapy for two years. 

Sarah’s Introduction to The TOPS™ System

Though PT improved Sarah’s symptoms, she continued to experience pain that compromised her ability to walk, stand, and even sleep at night. Her physician introduced her to the TOPS™ System, and Sarah quickly realized it was the solution she wanted. She recognized that the device would provide her with the greatest flexibility in the long term. 

Sarah’s Rapid Recovery

On the day that Sarah woke up from the TOPS™ procedure, Sarah was able to walk into the hospital with absolutely no leg pain. While she used the walker at home for the first several days after the surgery to ensure her stability, Sarah was soon moving around the first floor of her home, pain-free.  Sarah has now regained her role as an active mom. She’s thrilled that she no longer has to sit on the sidelines for fear of being in pain, instead partaking in camping, hiking, and other activities with her family.

Virginia Flowers’ Story

Virginia began to suffer from progressive back pain after giving birth to her fourth son. As the pain worsened, she received physical therapy and chiropractic care in hopes of improving her symptoms. However, these conservative treatments failed to provide relief as Virginia’s physical and mental well-being declined. 

Choosing The TOPS™ System for Virginia’s Back Pain

The surgeon, Dr. Coric, presented Virginia with two options: the TOPS™ System or spinal fusion. Having already conducted detailed research, Virginia feared that fusion would hold her back from dancing, playing golf, walking, and moving freely. When she saw the TOPS™ device, Virginia knew that it would provide the mobility she wanted. 

Returning to Dancing with The TOPS™ System

After returning home from the hospital after the TOPS™ procedure, Virginia had no pain. She gradually regained the ability to move, dance, and pick up her grandchildren. Virginia now feels like she did in her thirties before the chronic back pain began compromising her quality of life. She enjoys walking for miles, playing with her grandchildren, spending quality time with her husband, and, of course, dancing! The TOPS™ System is a one-of-a-kind spinal fusion alternative, providing lasting pain relief and restored mobility for patients with lumbar spinal stenosis or spondylolisthesis. 

Keith Thomas’s Story

Keith is an avid golfer who proudly experienced no back pain through much of his adult life. So, he was surprised to eventually face crippling back pain that continued to worsen despite frequent appointments with chiropractors, acupuncturists, and massage therapists. When Keith struggled to walk and could no longer participate in his normal activities, he started to research a lasting solution. Physicians suggested spinal fusion for Keith’s symptoms but couldn’t promise that he’d experience any pain relief. When Keith discovered the TOPS™ System, he was confident in its ability to restore his quality of life. Keith was impressed by the device’s mobility and function without fusing the vertebrae. 

Returning to Life as Usual with TOPS™

Keith could walk into the hospital soon after waking up from the TOPS™ procedure. Though he felt some pain from the incision, he was thrilled that his chronic back pain was gone. Keith slowly returned to his normal activities and began working again within just two weeks.  At his six-week post-op appointment, Keith was cleared to return to life as usual. He now frequents the golf course, plays with his grandchildren, and enjoys a full, active life. In his own words, “TOPS™ gave me back my life.”

Margaret’s Story

Margaret is a mother, grandmother, and outdoor enthusiast. She loves to spend time with her grandchildren while hunting, fishing, and exploring the woods where she lives. But, chronic leg pain plagued her for years.  Epidurals and pain medications helped relieve Margaret’s symptoms to a degree but didn’t serve as a lasting solution. She even experienced pain while sitting and watching TV or trying to fall asleep. With diminishing mobility and persistent pain, Margaret sought out an effective treatment. 

Discovering The TOPS™ System for Chronic Leg Pain

As she learned about the TOPS™ System, Margaret saw it as the perfect solution. As a mobile device, it would allow her to maintain her mobility without the restrictions of spinal fusion. Margaret could stand up and move around the day after the TOPS™ procedure. In the physical therapy room, she could walk up and down the steps and didn’t require a back brace. Though she returned home with a walker, she didn’t need it to move around her home comfortably. The success of Margaret’s procedure was apparent almost immediately when she could go out shopping comfortably a week after the surgery. She gradually became more active and returned to work within just six weeks. Now, Margaret walks or jogs on a treadmill daily and enjoys an active, pain-free lifestyle.

Rick Scarinzi’s Story

Rick first experienced minor back pain in 1983 during his military service. Nonetheless, he resiliently worked through the pain, only to have it progressively worsen. When he reached retirement, his pain became more pronounced, and he sought treatment. 

Increasing Spinal Pain and Discomfort

Physical therapy was Rick’s first line of defense, and he eventually attended three appointments per week. Though it worked for some time, it eventually failed to provide lasting back pain relief. Rick’s pain gradually worsened, and he was left with extremely limited function in his left leg.  Rick conducted extensive research on spinal fusion. However, he was concerned about restricted movement and increased pressure on adjacent vertebrae from the procedure. So, when Rick found the TOPS™ System, he decided to take the leap with this fusion alternative. 

Restored Mobility with TOPS™

The morning after the TOPS™ procedure, Rick could walk down the hospital hallway without pain or neurological symptoms. He was continually amazed by his own recovery as his strength and mobility returned. Three months after receiving the TOPS™ System, Rick is pain-free. The remarkable recovery has paved the way for him to return to his favorite activities, including fishing and spending time with loved ones.

Marianne Galang’s Story

Marianne has been working as a registered dietician for over 23 years. After starting a new fitness routine, she struggled to stay on the treadmill as long as she once could due to persistent back pain. Frustrated, Marianne headed to the spine institute for help. The specialists prescribed medications, physical therapy, and spinal injections to no avail. Marianne’s quality of life greatly suffered as a result of her chronic spinal pain and side effects from the medications.   

Choosing The TOPS™ System for Chronic Back Pain

After a year and a half of chronic pain and declining mental health despite the conservative treatments, Marianne decided that it was time for surgery. She discovered the TOPS™ System as a flexible, mobile option that could preserve the natural motion of the spine. A few weeks after undergoing the TOPS™ procedure, Marianne could walk around the track without pain. She soon returned to the gym, where she could complete her workout without back pain slowing her down. Marianne regained her active lifestyle and quality of life with the TOPS™ System. She’s thrilled to be an active grandma, and she no longer has to worry about the adverse effects of pain medications. Like many other patients, Marianne describes the TOPS™ System as a “life-changer”.

Yehuda’s Story

As a passionate student and author, Yehuda struggled profoundly with chronic back pain, not only physically but also mentally. He found it difficult, if not impossible, to focus on the persistent, debilitating pain. His pain would flare up with movement, including walking just 10 or 15 steps. Though he is a heart patient, Yehuda found that his back pain was the primary reason for the decline in his quality of life and performance. 

Searching for Relief

Yehuda exhausted the conservative treatments available for his spinal pain, including monthly epidural shots, acupuncture, and radiofrequency treatments. These methods failed to provide lasting relief, and Yehuda determined that surgery was the last available option.