“It was probably one of my greatest personal victories besides having a family,” said Amanda, of Stratford, who battled chronic back pain during the competition.
Despite a childhood diagnosis of spondylolysis, a common spinal structural abnormality, she pursued sports, including NCAA Division I lacrosse at Rutgers University.
She hit a turning point while training for her second IRONMAN®. Amanda finished a swim, but could not stand when she tried to get out of the water. She then made an appointment to see neurosurgeon Khalid Abbed, MD, co-director, Yale New Haven Hospital Spine Center.
He told her that she had spondylolisthesis, an unstable spinal segment, and small stress fractures that caused spinal instability and triggered severe back pain. This led to neural compression, producing severe leg pain. She needed a wheelchair if she had to walk more than five minutes. “When the pain got to the point where I could no longer take care of my family it was overwhelming.”
In April 2016 at Yale New Haven Hospital, Dr. Abbed performed a minimally invasive decompression to relieve the compression. He also performed a minimally invasive fusion to stabilize her spine.
Dr. Abbed said Amanda “was stopped in her tracks by disabling back and leg pain,” and knew that procedure advantages included shorter hospital stay, recovery, and the surgery would maximize “her chances of getting back to her many activities in the shortest time possible.”
Within two months of surgery and physical therapy, Amanda was running again. Today, at 41, she is like her old self with an eye on a 2019 IRONMAN®. “When every movement previously caused significant pain and to say that you are living pain-free, that’s the best outcome that anybody could ever have,” said Amanda.