Patient Testimonials

The following patients come from a diverse and interesting background, each having their own life changing experience through the orthopaedic health care provided by Dr. Hamada.  These patients generously allowed us to publish their stories because they believed that sharing their experiences might help others who suffer needlessly from debilitating back pain. We appreciate the continued support of all our patients and we hope you enjoy viewing/reading their stories and find them as inspiring as we did. Please keep in mind that each patient testimonial is about one patient's health-care experience. Please bear in mind that because every patient is unique, individual patients may respond to treatment in different ways. Results are influenced by many factors and may vary from patient to patient.

In no particular order, are:

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Louie Nappi

Background: Longshoreman, Marine Clerk & World Famous Rottweiler Breeder and Trainer

Louie has an extremely dangerous job dealing with all aspects of port/dock operations. In June of 2001, he turned his head and neck very quickly and experienced sudden and extreme pain in his neck and in both arms. He was rushed to the hospital where he was diagnosed with extreme herniation of his cervical discs. The disc was protruding into the spinal cord 9mm; to put this in perspective, the diameter of your cervical spinal cord is approximately 10mm. The hospital put him in traction for 9 days with a morphine pump for the excruciating pain. Louie said he even considered taking his own life at times as the pain was so unbearable.

Many doctors told him that he would likely end up quadriplegic or a paraplegic. Louie did not like these prognoses and continued searching for a doctor he could believe in. He endured months of conservative care with injections and medications without relief before he found Dr. Hamada. Dr. Hamada told Louie that once we relieve the pressure off the spine the pain would go away. He said the surgery would be done through an anterior (front) approach, rather than disrupting many muscles and ligaments by accessing the discs from the poster (back). Louie said “The message that he conveyed to me was one of certainty, that he could and would fix me.” Louie decided to believe in Dr. Hamada. Louie underwent an anterior cervical discectomy at C6-7 with instrumented fusion and bone graft and after surgery, he awoke from the anesthesia with his family friends all around and he realized that his pain was gone and he could move his legs and arms and at that point, Louie said, “I cried tears of joy” - he was so thankful he knew he would be fine. He walked to his car after 3 days in the hospital and eventually went back to work and his life.

docksTwo years later he was involved in an accident at work where a maintenance truck ran into the back his truck. Again his neck was injured; MRI demonstrated a large C5-6 herniated nucleus pulposis. (nucleus pulposis - A semifluid mass of fine white and elastic fibers that form the central portion of an intervertebral disc) He had severe cervical spine pain with stiffness and pain in the left hand. Dr. Hamada assured Louie that he would be fine. Louie’s second surgery required removal of the bone plate from the prior C6-7 surgery, with another anterior cervical discectomy this time at C5-6 with instrumented fusion and bone graft.

8 screws and 36 months later Louie returned to work and is feeling good physically and mentally. He said he is hiking 8-10 miles again, something he thought he would never again be able to do. He says his life is pretty much resumed right where he left is prior to the accident. Louie said, “If people just took the time and stop to research Dr. Hamada’s credentials and what he has accomplished and put him verses other surgeons out there in the world, he is in a league all by himself, and when you are in that predicament, you want the best person you possibly can have working on you.”

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Anne Beecher

Background: loves to travel and care for neglected dogs

Anne started experiencing pain shooting down her neck to her left shoulder and arm. Eventually the pain prevented her from walking her dogs which kept her in shape, she had trouble sleeping, and was loosing the function of her left arm.

Anne went to her primary care physician which recommended she get an MRI of her neck. The MRI demonstrated a very large C5-6 herniated disc. Her physician referred her to a specialist: Dr. Hamada. Dr. Hamada showed Anne exactly where her pain was coming from and explained how they were going to fix the problem. Anne was a little uneasy about how Dr. Hamada was going to use an anterior approach (front of the neck) but Dr. Hamada explained that This procedure is done through a small incision in the front of the neck resulting in minimal trauma to the neck tissues. This approach allows for minimal spinal nerve or cord traction and thus a quicker recovery period. Often a spinal fusion is done by placing a small piece of cadaver bone in between the two vertebrae. Occasionally, if the surgery involves more than one disc level or there is significant spinal cord compression, the we may need to place a small plate on the anterior cervical vertebrae in order to give further spinal stability. Because bone fusion takes time to grow, you will need to be in a cervical collar or brace for several weeks to allow complete recovery.

Anne underwent a anterior cervical discectomy and instrumented (plate & screws) anterior fusion in April of 2005. Anne said, “When I woke up, the pain was completely gone.” Anne said she could do everything she wanted to do right after surgery as long as she wore a neck brace while her bones were fusing. Anne was back to walking her dogs and moving on with her life until approximately 4 months later Anne fell and injured her neck. Her pain was shooting down her right side of her neck to her arm. She recognized the symptoms and went back to see Dr. Hamada. Dr. Hamada confirmed that she had herniated the disc just above the one that was just repaired (C4-5) and that she would require another anterior cervical discectomy and fusion.

Anne did very well after both surgeries until 2008 when she began to experience pain in her neck and left shoulder. Back to Dr. Hamada she went and Dr. Hamada examined the MRI and told Anne she had torn her left rotator cup in her shoulder. Dr. Hamada repaired her shoulder but after the surgery, Anne was still experiencing pain in her neck. She had an MRI done of her neck and found that she had a disc osteophyte at a different level, this time C6-7. Anne underwent her third neck surgery and is doing well. Anne said, “Since the surgery, life had just been terrific! I’ve been able to get out and exercise our dogs, and I’ve got a life out side of the home now.” Anne lost 110lbs now that she is able to get out of the house and exercise.

Altogether, Anne has had 7 operations under Dr. Hamada to repair her shoulders and her cervical discs. Anne jokes that she is addicted to Dr. Hamada, she says, “the bad news is that I have a disc problem, the good news is I have Dr. Hamada!”

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Donald Yaw

Background: broker in real estate and financing, very health conscious, involved in sports, ran and exercised consistently prior to injury.

Donald was helping move some boxes one day at work when someone dropped their box and items broke. Donald was at the time carrying a heavy box and quickly turned to see what had happened.  Everyone around him heard a loud snap and that sound came from Donald’s back.  Donald new something was very wrong with his lower back.  Donald describes the pain as “very sharp, very electric - immediate pain to the low back and down my legs.” Donald quickly lost sensation in both his legs and was rushed to the hospital. The hospital’s Doctor essentially said that everything was fine, that he needed to take it easy and eventually he will be able to go back to work; just take your medication for the pain.  Donald did not realize how serious his injuries were and took the doctors advice but the pain just kept getting worse. Over a period of many years, he saw other doctors that tried different treatments and operations, from cortisone injections to a spinal cord stimulator, over 25+ operations (Donald lost count) but his condition just got worse and worse.  He finally was referred to Dr. Hamada. Donald was skeptical having been through so many operations already that did not help, but he elected to go ahead and trust Dr. Hamada after researching Dr. Hamada’s background.  Donald said, “his background was unbelievable - flawless background”.

Dr. Hamada showed Donald how his discs were gone, essentially bone on bone. He had bone inflammation and pinched nerves due to the severely degenerated lumbar discs. Donald was not able to walk when he went to see Dr. Hamada.  Dr. Hamada performed a laminectomy, discectomy, and fusion of the L5-S1 vertebra. Donald said, “the following morning after the surgery, I was able to stand up and walk! Immediately after surgery, were talking hours”.  By the middle part of the second day in the hospital, Donald was walking around his floor so much that he could see he was starting to get annoying to the hospital staff as he was making 20 to 30 trips around his floor at a time. “I was just enjoying” referring to his regained ability to walk.

Donald left the hospital on the 3rd day and walked out.  Donald used the brace and the walker as instructed by Dr. Hamada, but after a week he said he did not need them anymore. Within 5 days Donald went back to work.  At the time the video was taken, Donald had been out of surgery for 9 weeks and Dr. Hamada had released him to do light exercise even jogging. Donald just wishes that he would have met Dr. Hamada sooner.

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Maxie Valdivia

Background: LA County Sheriff Motor Officer, active fisherman

Maxie was on duty in his patrol car when he was rear ended. At the time he did not experience any pain related to his accident. 5 years later Maxie began to experience neck pain running down his shoulder and into his right arm. Maxie said, “it’s like someone put your shoulder in a vise and clamped down so hard that the pain would radiate into your neck and you could feel it in your eye socket”.  Maxie tried acupuncture and massage therapy which seemed to temporarily relieved the pain but it always returned. To Maxie, the pain was just an irritating part of life that he had to put up with and built up a tolerance for. But the pain slowly got worse and Maxie went back into his medical care group and they scheduled Maxie for X-rays to be taken in 4 months. 

Maxie on his motorcycleMaxie continued working and while patrolling on his motor bike he hit an oil slick and lost control of his motorcycle, laying it down on the road. When he attempted to right his motorcycle, Maxie aggravated his older injury. When he was taken for treatment, the Doctor noticed a muscle in his neck and shoulder twitching. The Doctor sent Maxie in for an MRI. The MRI showed a severe bone spur at level C4-5 and C5-6.  Maxie was given the option of having a cortisone shot or surgery.  Maxie opted for surgery as the cortisone shot was not going to fix the problem.

He was referred to Dr. Hamada who confirmed that Maxie had severe foraminal stenosis with radiculopathy. Dr. Hamada gave Maxie two options, one being bone fusion the other a foraminotomy. The fusion would probably require Maxie to retire from his physically demanding job. The foraminotomy would allow Maxie to continue working and Maxie chose to continue working. Dr. Hamada performed a foraminotomy at C4-5 and C5-6 with decompression.

After waking up from surgery Maxie realized he was “pain free”. He also started to get a little upset at the nurses because they kept waking him up every 30 minutes (standard procedure) to insure there was no paralysis or complications.  But Maxie was experiencing some of the best sleep he had over the last 5 years. He also did not need the morphine that was available at the push of a button. He realized just how much pain he was in prior to surgery, that he had gotten use to the pain.

Maxie was back at work within 12 weeks with no limitations.  Maxie said that “prior to the surgery my family would have to deal with a grump when I came home, after surgery the grump didn’t come home anymore.”

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David Follett

Background: Retired Attorney, Athlete, has run every LA Marathon since it started.

David began to experience weakness in his legs, over a period of 2-3 weeks it progressed to the point that he was having trouble just walking across the room.  He went to his primary care physician and David was referred to other Doctors. The other Doctors were able to get David back on his feet but he still had pain and limitations.  David had been very active his entire life. And now that he was retired he wanted to spend his time pursuing athletic endeavors and now he could not. David was very despondent, as he had done some interesting athletic things such as riding his bike across the US, competed in triathlons, and has run every LA Marathon since it started. David said it was a very sad time for him.

His Doctor referred him to Dr. Hamada.  David said, “It was a wonderful day, I’ll never forget it because I went there thinking my problem was not severe enough to warrant an actual back surgery, and Dr. Hamada said we can fix you up, we can give you your life back, we can address this in a way you’ll be very very surprised at the improvement you can attain with out a lot of post operative recovery time going by.” David thought that back surgery should only be considered as the last possible option.

Dr. Hamada explained that he had spinal stenosis and that there is a devise that can be implanted to prevent the vertebra from pressing on the nerve and it was called the X-STOP®.  Dr. Hamada said that in some cases the X-STOP® alone would be enough but in other cases there may be bone spurs that would also need to LA Marathonbe addressed as was the case with David. Dr. Hamada performed a lumbar laminectomy, X-STOP® procedure with fat grafts. David said that he could tell the next morning when he stood up for the first time that this was going to be something really powerful. David was walking a quarter mile within a week and within 5 weeks, actually walked the entire LA Marathon with very little discomfort.

David says that “I still have to pinch myself - no pun intended, that this all worked out the way it did, it’s a miracle for me. It’s just been a wonderful experience.”

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Josie Medrano

Background: Los Angeles Transportation Supervisor, enjoys playing with her grand kids.

Ever since her car accident, Josie Medrano has suffered from excruciating back and leg pain so bad that it kept her from playing with her grandchildren and sometimes from work. The Los Angeles resident could not take pain medication while she was at work so when she had to drive a bus; every bump was very painful. She suffered from spinal stenosis, caused by shrinking in the spinal canal that pinches the nerves.

Josie driving her bus“I have lived with 24/7 pain and numbness,” said Josie, 50, a transportation supervisor for the Los Angeles Unified School District. “It was affecting my personal life because I was either grumpy from the pain or tired from the medication.”

Josie had been through months of physical therapy with no improvement. Her Health Plan Doctors decided that she needed surgery. Josie was referred to Dr. Hamada. Dr. Hamada explained to her what was causing the pain and the procedures that would relieve the pain, (a lumbar laminectomy and the X-STOP® device).

Almost immediately after surgery, Josie's toes were no longer numb, the pain had diminished, thanks to the X-STOP®, a titanium implant that opens up the space in her spinal canal. The device “jacked up” and maintains the space in her spinal column. The X-STOP® was inserted into the vertebrae through a 4-5cm. incision while she was lying on her side with her knees to her chest to mimic a sitting position. The procedure is hailed as an effective alternative to the traditional major spine surgery approach for her condition. Josie said “I can play with my grandchildren again or go to Disneyland and walk around with the kids again.” Josie finished by saying: “I am very pleased with the results and would recommend this procedure to anyone.”

The X-STOP® implant procedure is a simple, less-invasive approach to treating severe back pain. Many patients, like Josie, usually notice an almost immediate improvement. Once X-STOP® back surgery is performed; most patients may be immediately relieved of pain and able to walk the same day.


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