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Patient Testimonials

Read what everyone is saying about TCO

As the largest orthopedic physician group in the Midwest, and one of the largest in the country, you are sure to find a clinic that best meets your needs.

March 5, 2020

Elaine M.

I am so grateful I was referred to Dr. Smith after it was determined surgery was necessary to fix a pinched nerve in my neck. It was extremely painful and I had lost most of the use of my left arm. With Dr. Smith’s expert care and the assistance of his nurse, Anne, I am happy to say I am recovering well and working on regaining my strength. Both Dr. Smith and Anne are consummate professionals- very knowledgeable, compassionate and very giving of their time. At all times they were very responsive and patient with me! My sincere thanks for their care.

February 25, 2020

Terri F.

I have had such a positive experience with TCO! Due to the complexity of my hip and neck issues, I saw several doctors, including Dr. Ockuly, Dr. Knowlan, Dr. Weiss, Dr. Kirksson and Dr. Holmes; CNP Liz Sullivan; and physical therapists Mitch Kary and Steve Schneider. Every single person I have encountered has been caring, patient, knowledgeable and professional, including all of the support staff at the Stillwater, Woodbury and Vadnais Heights offices. My hip pain is basically gone, and my neck pain is much improved. I have been in pain for the better part of the last 15 years, and I could not be happier with the results I have gotten with TCO!

February 17, 2020

Martin S.

This testimonial is long overdue. I recovered so quickly I couldn’t wait to get back to my normal life. I had been dealing with issues with my C6-C7 area for years after returning from a tour in Iraq. Within a year I had put myself in the ER twice with excruciating pain in my chest and back. An MRI revealed that either I medical out from my job and forget about getting back in the gym or chance it with surgery. After meeting with Dr. Deal and his team, I had confidence that there was a good chance of fixing the disc in my back – or replacing it. I had the procedure in August. I don’t think my experience was typical but after surgery I refused to take any pain medication, as I had little to no pain. The day after returning home I walked 2 miles. Two weeks later, I got cleared to go back to work on light duty with restrictions. At 6 weeks, I was cleared early with no restrictions and returned to the gym. Now, six months later, it is as if the surgery never happened. I have no scar and no pain. I can’t thank Dr. Deal and his team enough for their professionalism and dedication to their profession. Thank you!

February 13, 2020

Michael H.

Life changing! I went to over 10 specialists, including other orthopedic specialists, to try and figure out why I had chronic pain during sleep and some activities. A decade after struggling with chronic pain in my neck/shoulder area, I sought out a doctor with great reviews online. Dr. Sager saw me three times and had me get a nerve test done. He gave me the diagnosis of TOS. A year later, after physical therapy didn’t help, I flew to Boston to go under the knife. Surgery was very successful so a year later I had my other side done.

I am so lucky to have been seen by Dr. Sager and then Dr. Donahue at Massachusetts General Hospital.

Life changing, thanks for everything!
Michael

December 10, 2019

Jerry

Dr. Kirksson was truly wonderful for me. He listens carefully and you really come to understand that he cares about you and wants to help you with your medical problem. Listening carefully and taking the time with a patient is rare today, but he does it naturally. His calm demeanor and thorough explanations immediately lowered my anxiety and stress levels. I initially saw him for problems with terrible pain with my neck that other doctors – surgeons – had said required surgery. He successfully treated my neck without surgery and it hasn’t bothered me since. Years later when I had persistent lower back pain, he was obviously my first choice. I recommend him to my friends and family, as needed, without hesitation.

August 26, 2019

M. H.

Thank you! I was struggling with a herniated disc for over 3 years and over that time I tried multiple different conservative therapy options which provided short term relief. This year things took a turn for the worse and I was referred to Dr. Michael Smith by multiple friends. I was reluctant at first but when the pain got to the point that I had no other option, I turned to Michael and his assistant, Anne Anderson, for guidance which was an absolute blessing. They not only helped me with understanding the different surgical options, but Anne also personally helped me navigate through the insurance requirements in a time where I needed to move quickly. I cannot thank these two enough, as I had a ton of anxiety and they walked me through exactly what I needed to know to make the ACDF surgery a success. I cannot thank them enough as they have changed my life for the better! They both come with my highest recommendation!

May 2, 2019

Kristi P.

Being 45, I have had my share of surgeries. I was born with left hip dysplasia in 1973. When I was a little over a year old, I had surgery to fix the ball and socket. I was very active growing up, lettering in 3 sports and played fastpitch softball during the summer for many years. Orthopedically I was doing great until 2010 when I tore my labrum in my left hip. Dr. Neil Johnson sent me to a specialist at the U of M. After repairing my labrum and replacing the hip a year later, I thought I was doing good. I was an avid golfer and was playing great.

In October of 2014, I was rear ended by a distracted driver, causing the herniation of vertebrae in my neck. Dr. Deal repaired my neck in April of 2015 and I was back on the golf course in August that summer. Not too long after this surgery, I started having right hip issues and Dr. Chris Larson found that I had a torn labrum. He highly recommended I go to see PT Meredith Butulis. She would help me get better without surgery! After my previous experience with my left hip, I was not sold. However, I began working with Meredith and found her to be amazing. She was a great listener and was always so positive and encouraging. After working with her, I have been able to push surgery off and still have not had to do anything about it.

In 2017, while golfing, I stepped in a hole in front of green, and stretched/tore ligaments in left ankle. After visiting with two TCO doctors, therapy was ordered and I immediately went to Meredith. After little improvements in my ankle, she sent me to see Dr. Chris Coetzee. He surgically repaired the ligament. He was also fantastic. When PT was ordered, I said I wanted to work with Meredith. Dr. Coetzee looked at me and said, “Fantastic. She is the best PT in the Twin Cities.” I told him I agreed.

Meredith has helped me in so many ways get back to participating in sports again at a high level. I have a fantastic relationship with her which gives me comfort when I have a question after treatment has been completed. I know I can email her and she gets back to me in a very reasonable time frame.

My story at TCO is extensive over the past 7-8 years. Every doctor, therapist and nurse have been wonderful to work with. I always felt like I was at the center of their attention when I was in one of the offices. I highly recommend to anyone who has an orthopedic issue or concern, to go to TCO.

April 22, 2019

David R.

TCO Comeback Story – David R.

When you accidentally cut through a tree trunk, you just don’t know how many branches will die until the leaves start falling…

My medical crisis on my neck and left shoulder, and subsequent rehabilitative journey the past four years, have been nothing short of remarkable. I owe a debt of gratitude to the Mayo Clinic surgeons and Twin Cities Orthopedics physical therapy team at Viking Lakes for literally saving my life. I’m now well into the process of rehabilitating a five-level cervical spine and my previously paralyzed left arm after 11 surgeries and infinite hours of physical therapy.

Downward Spiral. I served in the Army for just over 33 years, primarily as an aviator, which put a lot of wear and tear on my spine. After injuring my cervical spine during a deployment to Iraq in 2009, I underwent my first of eleven major surgeries in late 2011… a single level C7-T1 fusion. The army then unsuccessfully stacked three total disc replacements (TDR) above the initial fusion through four surgeries in 2014, however the outcomes were very poor and unstable. After gaining confirmation at the University of Washington Medical Center that the current TDR configuration was unstable, the army removed all TDRs in lieu of a lengthy anterior C3-T1 fusion plate/screws with posterior hardware rods from C3-T2. However, this particular 11-hour surgery on April 13, 2015 resulted in the severing of my left C5 and C6 nerves and several complications that rendered my left neck, shoulder and arm paralyzed. Moreover, I awoke prematurely from sedation, alone, and self-extubated myself in a panic. I underwent an emergency surgery 4 days later to reposition the suspect posterior hardware on my cervical spine, but my paralyzed arm never responded. Atrophy started. My entire life changed.

Hope. The army referred me to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN, and initiated medical retirement proceedings since I no longer met army retention standards. It was critical to attempt nerve transfers within the first six months following nerve damage or risk losing my entire left arm forever. I underwent the first of four surgeries at the Mayo Clinic to salvage my cervical spine and left arm on August 14, 2015, during which I received four nerve transfers and commenced a painful recovery process:

– Left spinal accessory nerve transfer to suprascapular nerve;
– Left triceps branch to anterior division of axillary nerve;
– Left ulnar fascicular transfer to biceps branch;
– Left median fascicular nerve transfer to brachialis branch

After several months in a sling and passive physical therapy in the army, my biceps and elbow flexion showed subtle movements. I returned to the Mayo Clinic for my first post-op assessment in February 2016. The Mayo Clinic then performed the second surgery by removing the posterior hardware in my neck. This enabled a little more range of motion and removed some of the torque on my upper thoracic spine. My anterior hardware remained in place; however, my left deltoid and trapezius muscles continued their atrophic decline. I retired from the army in June 2016, and we relocated back to my home state of Minnesota, where we could maintain continuity of care.

Setback & Determination. Over the next few months, my biceps and below continued to gain strength but my shoulder continued to decline. I slipped and fell on the ice in February 2017 and fractured the humeral head of my left shoulder, as I could not utilize my left arm to break the fall. After assessments by the Mayo team, I underwent my third surgery at Mayo, where Dr. Bassem El Hassan commenced reconstruction of my left shoulder on September 27, 2017:

– Pedicle pectoralis transfer to reconstruct the anterior deltoid.
– Attachment of the lower part of the sternal head of the pectoralis major to the proximal outer aspect of the humerus.

I spent the next 4 weeks in a Minnesota Vikings’ colored purple & gold spica cast, followed by 4 more weeks in a hard brace. I commenced physical therapy in Brainerd and began making progress, along with a simultaneous aqua therapy in a local swimming pool. While the transferred deltoid worked to prevent my left arm from further dislocations, my trapezius and rhomboid muscles on the backside continued to deteriorate and lose function. I returned to the Mayo Clinic for my fourth surgery—a double tendon transfer–on April 27, 2018 to address left scapula dysfunction secondary to subtotal trapezius paralysis with evidence of atrophy and poor contraction of the rhomboid major:

– Transfer of levator scapulae to the lateral spine of the scapula just medial to the acromion;
– Transfer of the rhomboid minor medial to the levator scapulae insertion;
– Advancement of the remnant upper trapezius laterally to also augment and help with transfers.

Revival. I spent another 8 weeks in a hard brace. Due the necessary complexity and uniqueness of my multi-faced reconstruction of my spine, nerves, muscles in my neck, chest, left shoulder and back, I was referred to Twin Cities Orthopedics for a new approach to physical therapy, and I was fortunately introduced to Dr. Christian Dawson (PT) and Mandy Towers (PTA) at the Viking Lakes facility in Eagan. Over the course of the following year, Dr. Dawson’s team crafted a tailored physical therapy regimen that combined dry needling, laser, massage & muscle manipulations and a comprehensive aqua therapy plan to help me retrain and rejuvenate transferred nerves and muscles into a functional left arm. After the first few months of restoring muscle functions, we have recently added light weights to commence strengthening. We still have a long way to go, however I am well underway in achieving an unbelievable comeback story that I never deemed possible back in 2015. I am so glad I met Christian and Mandy at TCO in Eagan. Although they have never encountered such a uniquely reconstructed set of nerves and muscles that my case offered, my TCO team’s ability to think “out-of-the-box” and apply feasible rehabilitative strategies have provided provide solutions that have helped to revitalize my physical health.

As the largest orthopedic physician group in the Midwest, and one of the largest in the country, you are sure to find a clinic that best meets your needs.

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