Dianne Griffitts

Oceanport Teacher Finds Relief After Spinal Surgery

Dianne Griffitts, 54, of Oceanport, didn't want to live the rest of her life in pain. As a special education teacher for grades K through 5 in the Long Branch School District, Dianne needed to be able to move around comfortably. After suffering from a herniated disc, the result of a car accident 15 years ago, Dianne tried various methods to relieve her pain.

She became aware of Jason D. Cohen, MD, FACS, chair of orthopaedic surgery at Monmouth at Monmouth Medical Center, when she underwent shoulder surgery in 2001. Since then, Dianne and her husband, Bryan, have sought treatment from Dr. Cohen for various neck and spine issues.

“He’s a terrific physician and takes care of all his patients. Dr. Cohen and his staff at Professional Orthopaedic Associates make it so easy to schedule appointments, and they take care of everything so all we have to do is focus on getting better and getting back to work,” said Dianne.

Dr. Cohen suggested Dianne undergo nerve ablation – a process that uses radiofrequency to heat and destroy nerves, eliminating the pain signals they send. The process is a temporary fix, however, as the nerves eventually grow back.

Not wanting to repeat this process each year, Dianne asked Dr. Cohen about other options that would provide more permanent pain relief, and he suggested surgery. In April, Dr. Cohen fused three of Dianne’s spinal discs through a minimally invasive lateral access approach performed by a select few spinal surgeons. Spinal fusion unites the vertebrae using a bone graft so no motion occurs between the affected discs.

“I have another medical condition that requires special dietary restrictions and medications, and I was more concerned about how surgery would affect that condition. Dr. Cohen is able to work with all patients’ needs and other medical issues,” said Dianne.

Now, Dianne is in the middle of a physical therapy regimen to regain her strength and mobility. “Before surgery, I had an annoying twinge in my back – even after having the nerve ablation – and I couldn’t lift anything. Since surgery, I haven’t experienced any twinges. I'm going to physical therapy to work out the stiffness and soreness that occurs as a result of the surgery and post-op inactivity,” she said, adding that she looks forward to returning to gardening and traveling with her husband.

“I realize that this is a metropolitan area and there are plenty of big-city options, but you don’t have to travel to New York to find a good surgeon,” said Dianne. “I’d go back to Dr. Cohen in a heartbeat.”

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