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Moments That Matter: Lisa's Story

When Lisa Leone was 11-years-old, she was diagnosed with scoliosis, a sideways curve of the spine. Her doctor suggested a wait-and-watch approach.

At 12, the curvature of Lisa’s spine was progressing. She was fitted with a molded back brace to be worn to bed every night, which she did for two years.

Her doctor hoped the brace would prevent Lisa’s scoliosis from worsening. At each of her annual checkups over the next several years, however, that proved not to be the case. In fact, the scoliosis proved to be progressing.

As her spinal curvature continued to worsen, Lisa began having back pain and was embarrassed about her appearance. Finally, aged 22, Lisa was no longer willing to follow the wait-and-watch approach her primary care physician still advised.

Lisa decided to get another opinion. She met with Jason Lowenstein, MD, a spine and scoliosis surgeon and director of Atlantic Health System’s Scoliosis and Spinal Deformity Center.

Dr. Lowenstein examined Lisa and found that the curve was eight degrees worse than what she had originally been told. In fact, her curve was now 46 degrees, which is considered severe scoliosis.

“There was no way for Dr. Lowenstein to tell if my curve would get worse or not. He informed me that there is no blood test or anything that can be done to know for sure. But, by looking at my records and how the curve progressed, he thought it would,” Lisa says.

Dr. Lowenstein suggested that it was time to consider surgery to prevent further deformity and create better alignment of her spine.

Lisa recalls, “There was no immediate rush to get the surgery… but, the longer I waited, the more likely the curve would get worse and then surgery would be more extensive.

“Dr. Lowenstein was very calming as he explained what he would need to do and what recovery would entail. His office staff was tremendously supportive as well,” Lisa says. “He and his team answered all my questions. Once my decision was made, the entire staff assured me that everything was going to be ok. I knew I was in the right hands.”

While Lisa was nervous about having surgery, she trusted Dr. Lowenstein tremendously, so she decided to have the surgery on December 11, 2017.

Two days after surgery, Lisa was out of bed and walking down the hospital hall. Although she required quite a bit of help and physical therapy in the weeks following, she became stronger, faster, and more mobile.

Lisa is thrilled to be out of pain and back to work. With only a mild 17-degree curve remaining, she is pain free, and her self-consciousness about her appearance nearly gone. “My back really looked funny before – like I was always leaning over to one side,” Lisa explains. “I was really limited to the kind of styles I could wear. Now my back looks normal! The thought of bathing suit season doesn’t bother me like it used to. Now, I feel a lot more comfortable in my own skin and can function pain-free.”


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