Patient testimonial: how back surgery helped me!

Written by: Mr Iqroop Chopra
Edited by: Laura Burgess

Agreeing to have surgery for your back pain can be a daunting yet life-changing decision. If you have exhausted the conservative (non-surgical) options and had little or short-term pain relief, you should consider talking to your doctor about the possibility of spinal surgery.

Mr Iqroop Chopra is a leading consultant spinal neurosurgeon based in Cardiff and we were lucky to ask one of his patients, 80-year-old Mr Fred Fisher, about the experience of having back surgery (lumbar fusion) and whether the procedure really was worth it. Here, the pair share their journey of working together.


A woman having her back medically examined

How did you hear about Mr Chopra?

Mr Fisher: “He was recommended to me by a friend who, after a bad car accident, was put back together by Mr Chopra. I did the self-pay option for private healthcare, which, of course, moves the NHS waiting list up a bit for someone else to get seen quicker. For me, it is a 200 mile round trip to the private hospital at Hensol but it was well worth it.”

Can you tell us about Mr Fisher’s case?

Mr Chopra: “When Mr Fisher’s leg pain started to affect his walking distance and limited most daily activities, this was starting to affect him mentally too. Having exhausted all conventional treatment, he underwent surgery which involved stabilising his spine and decompressing the spinal nerves by removing the roof of the spinal canal.

Whilst surgery helped relieve his leg pain and walking, he is having physiotherapy to strengthen his lower back and torso muscles and is able to return to his hobbies including sailing.”

What happened during your treatment journey?

Mr Fisher: “To begin with I tried a series of injections which were successful for a time. Then I discussed other options with Mr Chopra and decided to go for the lumbar fusion. I stayed in the hospital for four days and needed physiotherapy to get me out of bed the first day.

When I woke the first day, the really terrible pain had gone but there was some discomfort for a fortnight. I was not able to drive for six weeks or go out for a pint. Things have to knit together over time after surgery and there is now stiffness in my back, but the huge improvement is that I can walk and stand in comfort.”

How do you feel now having had back surgery and what advice can you give to those thinking about having the procedure?

Mr Fisher: “I am not a depressive person by nature but the level of pain I experienced before the treatment limited my activities considerably and to be free of that pain and resume an active lifestyle is rewarding.

I am hoping that with the passage of time, I will be able to resume fully those activities. I would really recommend this procedure and my surgeon Mr Chopra, who was excellent. I can enjoy my hobbies and I am relatively pain-free. My advice would be – don’t wait!”

If you would like to discuss your back pain with Mr Chopra, you can book an appointment to see him via his Top Doctor’s profile here.

By Mr Iqroop Chopra

Mr Iqroop Chopra is a leading consultant spinal neurosurgeon based in Cardiff. His areas of expertise lie in non-operative and operative management of spinal conditions such as spinal tumours and slipped discs. He also specialises in sciatica (leg pain), neck and back pain, arm pain and minimally invasive surgery.

Mr Chopra is a spinal fellowship-trained neurosurgeon and has been practising full-time as a consultant spinal neurosurgeon at Cardiff and Vale Hospital since 2007. In addition, he also has practising privileges at Nuffield Vale Clinic & Hospital and Spire Cardiff Hospital. Mr Chopra trained in London at tertiary neurosurgical and orthopaedic hospitals and is qualified to treat spinal problems from both an orthopaedic and a neurosurgical perspective, giving him a unique approach in treating the entire spectrum of spinal conditions. In order to offer the best and most effective treatment for each and every one of his patients, Mr Chopra also works closely with radiologists, physiotherapists and pain management specialists. 

Mr Chopra has a strong interest in teaching and training, and in role-modelling strong organisational skills.  For the last few years, has been convenor of Spinal revision course and also actively involved in teaching at the Cardiff University as an honorary lecturer. He has previously been Chair, Education and Training, British Association of Spinal Surgeons (BASS) for two years. At present, he is the Clinical lead for Spinal Services at Cardiff & Vale NHS trust.

Over the past five years, Mr Chopra has also been proactively working with SpineAid; a charity involved in treating spinal deformities in children and young adults in India. This passion grew out of a desire to give back to the system and help to treat neurosurgical anomalies in deserving patients with spinal deformities who cannot afford to pay for their own surgery. Consequently, he is now working to establish medical centres in India that can offer surgery to these patients.

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