XLIF Procedure Helps NBA Star Bill Walton Overcome Extreme Back Pain

Dr. Kubeck imageBy: Justin Kubeck, M.D.

On the face of things, NBA Hall of Famer Bill Walton seemed to have it all – recognition as one of the NBA’s 50 Greatest Players of all time and, following his retirement from basketball, a promising career as an NBC sports commentator.  Behind the scenes, however, Walton was struggling with an agonizing medical condition that threatened to derail him both personally and professionally.

Walton was no stranger to injuries. The 6’11” star athlete, who played for the Portland Trailblazers and Boston Celtics in the 1970s and 1980s, underwent the first of 37 orthopedic surgeries at age 14, the year before he was recruited to play for UCLA. Nothing, however, prepared him for the agony of the incapacitating, degenerative back pain he would suffer up until four years ago.

Walton was benched by spinal stenosis, a degenerative narrowing of the spinal canal which results in pinched nerves in the back and can cause crippling pain and impaired functionality.  The solution?   A breakthrough, minimally-invasive procedure known as XLIF® (eXtreme Lateral Interbody Fusion), which has allowed Walton and others suffering from chronic back or leg pain to resume a full life.

Before XLIF, spinal fusion to fuse bones with a disc required complex vascular surgery with large incisions and a lengthy recovery process including an up to five day hospital stay and several weeks of rehab. The XLIF procedure, which has been developed over the last 5 to 10 years, utilizes specialized implants and an advanced side-approach technique which is less traumatic to muscle and tissue, involves a smaller incision, and results in a much speedier recovery.

Walton and other patients who have found relief with XLIF® say they had no idea what life could be like without back pain and without medication.

Back surgery has traditionally been considered a scary, last resort option but it’s a new day in the field and people no longer have to live with chronic back pain.

XLIF can get people back up again and greatly improve their quality of life in a minimally-disruptive way.  Technology and surgical techniques have evolved, enabling great outcomes with quicker recoveries.

With a thorough evaluation, there’s more hope for people dealing with back and leg pain than ever before. If you suffer with this condition, discuss your options with a fellowship trained orthopedic surgeon experienced with the XLIF procedure.

Dr. Kubeck is a board-certified orthopedic surgeon and completed fellowship training in minimally invasive spine surgery at the University of California. After graduating from Jefferson Medical College, he completed an orthopedic surgery residency at SUNY/Downstate Medical Center in Brooklyn, NY. Dr. Kubeck is on the staff of the Human Motion Institute at Raritan Bay Medical Center. For an appointment, call 855.5.MOTION.

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