ANS Spine Center: Teacher teaches an important medical lesson

Source: Central
Delacey Thiele, a 34-year-old health and phys ed teacher, was always physically active. “Engaging with my students at Wantage Elementary School and being outdoors with my family is very important to me,” Delacey said.
That wasn’t so easy when her legs started feeling heavy, weak and tired. A round of tests only showed low levels of Vitamin D. Supplements didn’t help.
Delacey’s symptoms continued to worsen. She had numbness in her legs, tingling in her fingers and hands as well as pain down her arm. A neurologist ordered two MRI: one of her brain and one of her spine.
During the spine MRI, the radiologist noticed findings around her neck. An on-the-spot neck MRI revealed herniated discs at three levels. A herniated disc develops when one of the cushion-like pads between the vertebrae moves out of position and presses on adjacent nerves.
Delacey was immediately referred to Dr. Charles Stillerman, a board-certified neurosurgeon at Atlantic NeuroSurgical Specialists (ANS) and spine specialist. When she received a call from him the next morning, he had already read her MRI reports and told her to come in immediately.
He explained it was urgent to get her into surgery. He postponed an existing procedure and admitted her to the hospital to remove the herniated discs.

“She came to me right away, which may have saved her ability to walk. Had she waited another week, it may have been too late to intervene – and she could have become a quadriplegic. She was very lucky.”

“During the procedure, we performed an anterior cervical discectomy and fusion (ACDF),” Dr. Stillerman said. “This type of neck surgery involves removing a damaged disc to relieve spinal cord or nerve root pressure and alleviate corresponding pain, weakness, numbness and tingling. “Thankfully, Delacey acted quickly,” Dr. Stillerman said.
“I felt immediate relief right after surgery,” Delacey said. “I hope everyone who has unusual, hard-to-diagnose symptoms searches until they have answers and a treatment plan. While you may have to persist to find the correct solution, your life and health are worth it.”

For more information about neck and spine disorders, contact the ANS Spine Center at 732-455-8225 or visit

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