Testimonials: Spine – Cervical (Neck) Fusion

Laura Barrow – Multi-level Cervical Spine Fusion Surgery

Image of Laura Barrow and friendI am a 49 year old from Williamsburg, VA. I am very active and my exercise routine includes long distance running, biking and cross training. Three years ago, I started having neck issues that eventually caused numbness in my fingers, shooting pain in my neck and stiffness so bad I couldn’t turn my head from side to side. After exhausting all my options, including Physical Therapy, chiropractic care, dry needling and massage, I went to see Dr. Jeffrey Carlson.

An MRI showed I had degenerative disc disease affecting C5-C7. We tried several steroid injections, which didn’t help at all. Finally, we decided on surgery. THEN my insurance company balked and refused to cover it. Dr. Carlson and his staff went way beyond the call of duty with multiple appeals and peer-to-peer consults. They really went to bat for me! After nearly a year of appeals, I was approved for a two-level fusion (C5-6 and C6-7).

Dr. Carlson and his staff fully prepared me for the surgery. I understood what to expect before, during and after surgery. They explained everything, and answered all questions I had, no matter how small.

The surgery was out-patient. I wore a neck brace for two weeks, and followed all instructions. At the end of two weeks, I was able to walk up to 2.5 miles without any problem. I am 7 weeks out now and my activity level has increased nearly to the level it was before I was in so much pain. I am currently in physical therapy to regain neck mobility. My muscles need to learn how to stop protecting my neck so it can turn again!

I hope I never need another surgery, but if I do, I would not hesitate to call Dr. Carlson. He’s a top-notch surgeon who clearly cares about the well-being of his patients.

Laura Barrow

Westley Stark – Cervical Fusion and Discectomy Surgery

Image of Dr. Mark McFarlandSerious neck pain and some lost range of motion brought me to OSC to see Dr. Mark McFarland. Dr. McFarland was very helpful by answering all of my many questions, while diagnosing my problem and recommending a course of action.

After some initial conservative measures, we decided to proceed with a Cervical Fusion and Discectomy. As a professional pilot, I was a bit nervous about such a procedure. When the surgery day came, everything seemed to go like clockwork and the results were amazing. Less than 10 days after the surgery, I was back up flying again. At the three month point, I was given the go ahead for any and all activities. My neck no longer hurts and I have 100% of my range of motion. I even grew a quarter of an inch (LOL).

I am very grateful for Dr. McFarland’s skill and professionalism as well as all the staff at the Orthopaedic & Spine Center.

Westley Stark

Samuel Tyson, MD – Four-Level Cervical Decompression & Fusion Surgery

Image of Dr. Jeffrey CarlsonMy experience regarding the evaluation and management of my neck (cervical) condition, under the care of my colleague Dr. Jeffrey R. Carlson, M.D. has been outstanding. He was highly recommended to me and I am very happy that I chose him as my cervical spine orthopedic surgeon.

His practice includes a state of the art facility and is very efficient and convenient. He employs an excellent support staff and has many convenient on-site ancillary services. The staff at Mary Immaculate Hospital where he performed during my surgery was outstanding and very detail-oriented.

Throughout my encounters with Dr. Carlson, all my questions here answered and he is always accessible, particularly with the convenient electronic communication technology that his practice employs. His medical and surgical expertise and skills are exceptional. He is very personable and is an excellent doctor.

I am very pleased that my posterior cervical decompression and fusion surgery of 4 levels, a very major big-deal for me, went seamlessly well.  At 6 weeks post-op, I can say my surgery was a good decision for me, it is a success and I am progressing remarkably well. I very highly recommend Dr. Carlson, without reservation, for his specialty care in orthopedic spine surgery. I thank and praise God for Dr. Carlson and I pray for his continued success and blessing. Thank you, Dr. Carlson.

Samuel Tyson, MD 

Donna Leslie – Multi-level Cervical Spine Surgery

I began having major pain in my right shoulder blade area while traveling in the fall of 2016. Once home, I saw my primary care physician who immediately ordered x-rays that revealed severe arthritis of the right side of my neck. Planning to manage arthritis for the rest of my life and refusing to use pain medications, I started physical therapy and began a regime of neck and shoulder exercises to keep my neck loosened up. The pain was manageable and life continued.

In early 2018, however, I began having numbness in my hands and asked my primary care physician for a referral to an orthopedic specialist. She referred me to OSC. I selected Dr. Jeffrey Carlson from website reviews. From the first appointment on March 27, 2018, I felt like I was in great hands. From the new x-rays taken at the time of my first appointment, an MRI was scheduled for the next week and I met with Dr. Carlson for the result the following week.

The MRI revealed severe cervical stenosis, with serious deterioration of levels C3, 4, 5, and 6. That wobbly feeling in my neck was exactly that. The physical therapy and neck exercises I had been doing were not only not helping, but were perhaps putting me at risk for paralysis. It was an immediate, easy decision to have cervical spine surgery.

Since the surgery (following the inevitable few weeks of recovery), I have been pain-free and have full range of motion of my neck. An amazing transition from believing I would have to live with pain and loss of motion in my neck forever, to being pain free and flexible. Throughout, Dr. Carlson and the staff of OSC were fantastic. OSC is run with impeccable, caring efficiency. A lifetime of thanks to Dr. Carlson and the entire staff! (P.S. Since my surgery, I have talked with several people who also had amazing life-changing results under Dr. Carlson’s care!)

Donna Leslie

Chris Ozor – Cervical Spinal Fusion Surgery

Image of Chris OzorWhen I told my friends that I will be undergoing a spinal fusion surgery, their first question was “where?”  I responded “OSC (Orthopaedic & Spine Center) at 250 Nat Turner BLVD”.  They would say, “Chris, we hope that you have Dr. Jeffrey Carlson as your surgeon. Carlson is more popular than Ferrarius – the Sicilian.”

From his direct and focused gaze to his soothing voice, you can tell you are in good hands when Dr. Carlson is your physician. The team of doctors who worked on me did a fantastic job, also. I remember Dr. Raj. I could hear his voice calling my name, encouraging me to be strong that it soon shall be over. The nurses at Mary Immaculate were exceptional in their professionalism and love of their job.

The first week after the surgery was the most challenging. My surgery went well, thanks to the skills of Dr. Carlson. My good friend, Patrese Langford, was phenomenal in her care of me. She was full of human kindness. She made sure all my medications were filled and dispensed. She put herself on a four-hour regular Alarm notification to ensure I’ve taken my medicine and lying in bed the right way. Oh my goodness, I can go on and on.

From the bottom of my heart I thank my personal physician, Paul Hiotellis, for referring me to Dr. Carlson. Today I am stronger than I was prior to having the surgery. I’ll recommend any of the mentioned doctors, with Dr. Carlson in front of the line.

Chris Ozor

David Kruger – Cervical Spine Fusion Surgery

Image of Dr. Jeffrey Carlson in the ORI was diagnosed with needing an anterior cervical fusion-level 1…Once I met with Dr. Jeffrey Carlson, it was determined that surgery was necessary. When I looked into what the surgery would entail, I was extremely nervous about the procedure, being my first surgery ever. I was warned that Dr. Carlson would go in from the front, move my esophagus, and go straight back to the disc in my neck.

When I arrived at Mary Immaculate Hospital, they took me in right away and started pre-op. Dr. Carlson came in, and answered all the questions my wife and I had. I went back into surgery approximately 7:30 AM, and I woke up at approximately 9:00 AM with my neck brace on. I immediately noticed all the pain that I had experienced was now gone.

I was told I would probably need to be on a soft diet for a few days and to expect a sore throat. I experienced none of the side effects of the surgery. When I awoke, a nurse was there and asked if I was hungry. I was starving. They gave me graham crackers and a big cup of Pepsi. I was in the neck brace approximately 12 days.

I cannot overstate how professional Dr. Carlson and his staff are. He had come highly recommended from my primary care provider, on whom Dr. Carlson had performed the same procedure. Any orthopaedic needs I have in the future will surely be done by Dr. Carlson. My recovery was so much better than I ever anticipated. I cannot thank Dr. Carlson and his physician assistant, Tonia, enough. If anyone is preparing to get this surgery done, I highly recommend OSC.

David Kruger

Margaret Boone – Cervical Spine Fusion Surgery

Image of Dr. Jeffrey Carlson in the ORI had cervical spinal fusion in April of 2017… Dr Carlson was very professional and a calming presence prior to the surgery. My neck and arm pain are gone except for occasional instances when I have some tingling, but I think in time it will recede. I was out of work for two weeks after the surgery.

I am now ready to get surgery on my lower back and feel confident that this surgery will go as well as the neck surgery and I will gain mobility back and can return to a more active life.

Thank you Dr. Carlson for your excellent care.

Margaret Boone


J. Joseph – Cervical Disc Fusion Surgery & Physical Therapy

Image of Dr. Jeffrey CarlsonExcellent group of doctors, assistants, and wonderful physical therapy team!

I had been referred to see an orthopedic surgeon. So I did some research online and came across a few in Hampton Roads. After reading the reviews and testimonials from the different practices, my decision was made and I chose to go with OSC.

On my first appointment, options were discussed and the worst case scenario was given. Dr. Jeffrey Carlson requested a better imaging scan done so that he could fully assess what my situation was. I ended up having to have a bone fusion done in my neck due to some ruptured discs. I had no idea I had a ruptured disc! Thought it was just muscle problems. The issue was so bad, we had no alternative. I was beginning to have problems walking, getting up from a seated position, losing strength in my hands and arms, and some other issues associated with it.

After my surgery, almost immediately I had the strength back in my hands and I could get up without a problem again. You are out the same day as your surgery. Dr. Carlson made sure to try to reassure you a bit right before your surgery and does come check on you while you are in recovery. The follow up appointments he wants to know your progress and any issues you may be having.

Over a year later, the bones have mended nicely and the fusion has taken place well. No real problems from it besides the cold weather. Neck wear is a must in colder temps!

Physical therapy helped a great deal in getting mobility and flexibility back. The key thing is that you have to tell them what is going on. They can guide you and help, but without feedback, they can not zero in on problem areas. You’ve got to let them know where it is bothering you and if a certain movement helps or hinders you. If you feel you need continued therapy when it gets near your release time, speak up. They will do their best to help you out and get you back on your feet again.

I would recommend this practice to anyone that is in need of their services. They are a great group and also do many things in the community. They carry themselves well, have a wide variety of collective knowledge and the best thing they have, that is harder to find in doctors any more, is that they do care about their patients.

J. Joseph

Harry Szczutkowski – Cervical Spine Fusion

I am a 69 year old male and my name is Harry Szczutkowski. I had to have neck surgery done in which my disc had to be replaced. I have been blessed in a way, that when I needed them, I have found the best doctors in their fields.

Dr. Mark McFarland is right up there among the top of the list.  His skills as a surgeon are first class and he has compassion, and is positive and caring.  He is on top of the playing field.

I would like to take this time to thank you, Dr. McFarland, and may God bless.

Yours Truly,

Harry Szczutkowski

Patricia Ricks-Armstead – Cervical Fusion Surgery

I had been experiencing neck, back and shoulder pain with a numbing and tingling, radiating down my right arm for quite some time. My 2016 holidays were spent in excruciating pain. After many x-rays and MRI’s, I was finally diagnosed with a herniated disc and pinched nerve in my neck. I was sent to see a neurosurgeon who told me that I was not a candidate for surgery and my only treatment option was cortisone shots. I sought a second opinion on the recommendation of two people who had been treated by Dr. Jeffrey Carlson, and I am so ecstatic that I did.

He explained to me that the only way to alleviate my pain would be through surgery, because the bulging disc was pressing down on my nerve causing pain and a shot would not help. He said it was like stepping on a water hose…unless you alleviate the pressure on the hose, the water can’t flow through. So, the disc had to be removed and replaced with a titanium plate.

Dr. Carlson calmed my fears about having the surgery, and here I am now, 6 weeks after my surgery, back at work and pain free.

Thank you Dr. Carlson and the staff at OSC. Your professionalism and kindness means so much.

Patricia Ricks-Armstead