Op frees retired Red Cross worker from life of pain

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Retired Jeffrey Goodall was told nothing could be done for his bad back, but surgery in Leeds has changed his life. Catherine Scott reports.

A retired Red Cross service co-ordinator from Bradford who suffered with debilitating back pain for five years before being correctly diagnosed says his life has been transformed following spinal surgery. Jeffrey Goodall, 71, suffered severe back and leg pain, which affected all aspects of his daily life.

It was previously diagnosed as sciatica and he was told that nothing further could be done for him.

It started in 2014 with cramps and pins and needles in the legs. He found it painful to be in any position other than sitting or lying down.

Then, during the last nine months, his condition worsened to the point where he couldn’t walk far and developed weakness in his left foot which caused him to limp. He described the constant pain as ‘horrendous’.

The grandfather of two saw another GP who referred him to Mr Deb Pal, consultant neurosurgeon at Spire Leeds Hospital, who ran MRI tests which revealed severe narrowing of the spinal canal in the lower part of his spine with no spinal fluid around the nerves and a slight slip of the vertebra.

“I’d been told by other doctors that there was not much could be done for me. My last chance was to see Mr Pal. His diagnosis came just in time.

“The terrifying thing is that I had reached critical stage and without surgical intervention I might have been at risk of becoming a double incontinent. I feel very lucky that I had surgery just in time.

“Mr Pal saved me and I’m now well on the way to recovery and looking forward to regaining full mobility.”

“This was critical stenosis (severe narrowing of the nerves),” says Mr Pal. “Spinal stenosis is the commonest spinal condition we find in the elderly. The covering of the nerves was thinned out and stuck to the thickened tissues. If he had not undergone the surgery, almost certainly his walking would have deteriorated, and the weakness could have worsened.” Jeffrey underwent minimally invasive surgery two weeks later at a cost of £12,000 of his savings. He went home after a two-night hospital stay and used a walking stick for the first few weeks. Jeffrey says he is now pain-free and is looking forward to being able to take his dog for long walks, getting back to driving and activities he used to enjoy including gardening and playing bowls and snooker once again. He says the self-funded surgery was money well spent.