Kris Wittenberg

Kris Wittenberg
Procedure: Anterior cervical discectomy

Kris Wittenberg was going through a stressful year. The mother of two was being sued by her homeowner’s association and working full-time running her own promotions company in Eagle when she started to have increasing pain in her shoulder that was running down her arm causing numbness.

One day at work it got so bad she couldn’t turn her head. So she called a massage therapist - a move she says made the situation even worse. The former gymnast who normally considers herself fairly stoic had never been in so much pain.

On a recommendation from her OB/GYN, Kris called Vail-Summit Orthopaedics. After ordering x-rays and an MRI, Dr. Paul Abbott showed Kris the results - two severely herniated discs just below her neck. Kris didn’t want surgery, so Dr. Abbott referred her to Dr. Raub, a physician with VSO who specializes in interventional spine pain procedures.

Kris had two cortisone injection shots and went to physical therapy. But she saw no long-term results which meant no long-term relief. More importantly, Kris knew if she ever took a bad fall, she could end up paralyzed. Dr. Raub told Kris she might want to start considering surgery. Kris said she would need a surgeon who could hold her hand and give her lots of attention. Together they decided Dr. Greg Poulter would be a perfect fit for her.

“Dr. Poulter was remarkable. He was so calming and took so much time with me. He had me call other patients who had gone through the same surgery so I would know what to expect. He never made me feel silly or stupid for asking so many questions,” remembers Kris. “After surgery, he gave me his cell phone number and told me to call him directly if I had any concerns. I’ll never forget his kindness of willingness to be there for me.”

For Kris, Dr. Poulter recommended anterior cervical discectomy fusion surgery. Discectomy involves removing all or part of the injured discs. Dr. Poulter made a small incision near the front of Kris’ neck in order to remove the injured discs and relieve the pressure. Surgeons then use a bone graft or a small metal plate to stabilize the spine while it heals.

“For how serious the surgery was, the pain during recovery was pretty minimal,” says Kris.  More remarkably, Kris couldn’t believe how ‘spot-on’ Dr. Poulter was with the recovery timeline. “Everything happened exactly when and how he said it would,” says Kris. “He said I would be fully recovered in five months, and I was almost to the day.”

Besides her love of running, Kris spends much of her time in front of her computer. Today, she has absolutely no pain, a true testament she says to how well the surgery went.