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Johns Hopkins Health - Surgical Solution

Winter 2010
Issue No. 7

Surgical Solution

Date: January 24, 2010

When medications couldn’t help her back pain any longer, Felice Dorman turned to spine surgery

a woman wearing a blue turtleneck and black pants

What began as a fun trip to the amusement park five years ago ended in years of pain—then I became dependent on prescription medications.

I got whiplash during a roller-coaster ride. Later I noticed I was having arm and neck pain that wouldn’t go away. My doctor sent me to have an MRI, and we discovered a herniated disc in my cervical spine. He recommended conservative treatment. I started with pain management, trying nerve blockers and injections, all the while taking prescribed drugs to help with the pain. Nothing seemed to work, and I became physically dependent on the drugs, even getting sick if I didn’t have them. Even so, the drugs weren’t really helping. I’m a nurse; I knew this wouldn’t end well.

I finally came to Johns Hopkins, where I talked with neurosurgeon Ziya Gokaslan, M.D. He found that I had degenerative disc disease and recommended surgery. I tried three more months of conservative treatment. After that, I couldn’t take it anymore.

I had the surgery—a cervical disc replacement that included a bone graft—and it was a gift. My recovery was amazing, and I was up and walking around the next day. Today, I’m back to full duty as an R.N. with no limitations. I can do anything, but I think I’ll skip the roller-coaster ride the next time I’m at an amusement park.

Mind | With her successful surgery behind her, Felice Dorman reduces the likelihood of depression from her chronic pain or side effects of medications.

Heart | Limited movement of the neck and spine can impact your activity and exercise, which can also affect your heart health.

Joints | Neck pain is caused by muscle, nerve and ligament problems, as well as the bones and joints of the spine. Successful treatment decreases the risk for problems in other joints.

Watch Felice Dorman tell her story at For more information about degenerative disc disease and other neck and back conditions, visit For appointments or consultations, call 877-546-1872.