Testimonials: Spine – Laminectomy

Melanie Johnson – Physical Therapy for Post-Surgical C-5 Nerve Palsy


On Dec 9, 2019, Dr. Jeffrey Carlson performed a posterior cervical laminectomy and inserted four rods in my spine to relieve compression of my spinal cord. The surgery went well and as always, Dr. Carlson did a great job. However, after I woke up, I found that I couldn’t use my left arm. I had a complication called a C-5 palsy, which means because the nerves between that cervical vertebrae had been compressed for so long, they had been damaged and I was going to have to “re-learn” how to use that arm.

I had physical therapy at home for about five weeks. It was determined it could be up to a year or more for me to gain the use of my arm. Mid-January, I was released to PT at OSC’s Physical Therapy Center and saw Dr. Paige Tretter for an evaluation. At that time, I could lift my left arm at about 25 degrees in front of me, couldn’t bear any weight on it or lift more than a couple of pounds. A program was set up for me and I began working with one of the therapists for about three weeks and he did a good job. But after that, I began working with Fred Wintermantel, LPTA.

Fred Wintermantel, LPTAOver the next four months, Fred worked the program that was set up for me, but he went above and beyond during each appointment to adapt therapy for me that met my specific needs to help continue healing for my neck and to help me regain the use of my arm. He would always ask how I was feeling when I came in. He would listen, really listen, and then work through my program and add or take away exercises that would better help me progress. My exercises were often difficult & sometimes painful, but I always felt encouraged to push through as I felt comfortable. Another helpful thing he did was to explain WHY we did some of the exercises we did. He would explain how using certain muscles or movements were going to help me heal. g with at the moment, because he always gave 100% to each patient, but this just shows the commitment to what he does.

Each month I would follow up with Dr. Tretter to see if I should continue my therapy. She, too, is committed to the care of her patients and always supported me continuing until we felt I was doing well enough to work on my own. She was often amazed at the progress I was making each month knowing what my prognosis was initially.

Dr. Paige Tretter

After four and half months of therapy at OSC with Fred, I am now able to lift my arm over my head, bear weight on my shoulder, use weights in my exercises and have close to 100% mobility in that arm. I still have numbness and have to limit the weight I lift/carry with my arm and believe I’ll get to 100% , but I know that had I not worked with Fred over these last months, I would be nowhere near I am now in my healing process

The skill, heart and motivation he has for his patients is not often seen and OSC should be thankful for quality employees such as Fred Wintermantel, LPTA and Dr. Paige Tretter .

Melanie Johnson



Make an appointment with Dr. Carlson or Dr. Tretter, or Fred or another OSC provider by clicking the “Request Appointment” button below or by calling (757) 596-1900.  


Tammy Carnegie – Laminectomy for Herniated Spinal Disc


My name is Tammy. In April 2017, I had a Lower Lumbar Laminectomy (Discs 2-4 surgery) from a different medical facility. Unfortunately, my chief complaint that I had expressed to that doctor (I found out was in disc #4-5) was not treated and I was still having the same issues. So, I made an appointment with Dr. Jeffrey Carlson for a consult.

During the consult, he made me feel confident in him about what was needed to be done. The information he showed me concerning my issue allowed me to make an informed decision. I gladly made the decision to have the surgery.

Upon my post operation (post op) visit, Dr. Carlson advised me to walk. I have a treadmill in my workout room, I started out walking a mile a day then, walking/running one mile in 17 minutes (see video MP4 Dec. 04, 2019).

Upon my 6 week “post op” appointment I walked into his office, walking upright and strong.  Dr. Carlson was so pleased with that. I’m now getting Physical Therapy to help me get back to normalcy and I plan on doing my exercises and head stands again. Thank you Dr. Carlson, you are truly lead by God, I am so happy with how this surgery turned out!


Tammy Carnegie doing headstands

Alan Gunnerson – Lumbar Laminectomy Surgery

Image of Mr. GunnersonMy name is Alan Gunnerson. I am a 57-year old male that spent several years with increased lower back pain, and over the past two years, extending down my left buttocks and leg to my left foot. I found myself only able to sit for a short period and then had to stand, again, only for a short period. I described myself as a yo-yo; there was no comfortable position. Come to find out that I had spinal disk compression between L4 and L5 and spinal stenosis within the disk area that was irritating my sciatic nerve.

Because I also have an older pacemaker—one that is not MRI compatible—the only scanning I had completed was an initial PET/CT, a follow-up CT scan, and an x-ray before my lumbar operation.

After two 6-week physical therapy sessions that made my pain worse, except for the traction table, and several lumbar epidurals—four to be specific—and an additional cortisone shot on my left piriformis muscle area, I was sent to Dr. Jeffrey Carlson to evaluate my condition. Before seeing Dr. Carlson, I even attended a lecture that described spinal cord stimulation.

Dr. Carlson diagnosed that I had disk compression between L4 and L5 and spinal stenosis that was causing irritation of my sciatic nerve and the only treatment left was to perform a lumbar laminectomy to relieve my sciatic nerve pain.

I had my lumbar laminectomy—a decompression procedure—at the Mary Immaculate Surgical Center on January 16th, 2019. Dr. Carlson removed roughly half of my lamina and bone spurs that were causing the compression of my sciatic nerve. It did not take long for me to feel relief—relief of pain that I had not felt for almost two years.

I was able to go back to work part-time in a week and full-time in two weeks; although with lifting restrictions. At the time of writing this testimonial, I am seven weeks out from my surgery and am no longer on the 20-pound lifting restriction. I am starting physical therapy shortly to strengthen my lower back and core.

Every person’s situation is different, and for me, although I did not want to have another surgical procedure, the lumbar laminectomy worked. For someone that may have similar circumstances, I would recommend talking with your doctor about this type of procedure.

Alan Gunnerson

J.A. Faulkner, Jr. – Lumbar Spine Surgery

Image of JA Faulkner in the cockpit of an airplaneIn April of 2018, I began experiencing severe pain in my lower back.  I went to see Dr. Jeffrey R. Carlson on 18 May 2018, after having seen another physician, who was more interested in satisfying the needs of the insurance company rather than taking care of my needs as a patient.

Dr. Carlson performed a through examination, reviewed my MRI, and assessed that the only treatment/cure for my ruptured disc was surgery.  Dr. Carlson was extremely caring as was evidenced during my initial office visit.  There was no rush to have me in and out within 15 minutes.  He made me feel like I was his only patient to be seen that day.  Surgery was immediately scheduled.

The surgery was successful and gave me immediate relief from pain.  His office staff and surgery team were very friendly, caring and efficiently handled all the activities associated with my medical care.  Follow up care has been excellent.


J.A. Faulkner, Jr.

Sherry – Spinal Surgery

About a year ago, I woke up suddenly in extreme pain, I could not walk. After many trips to the doctors, the cause was diagnosed, I had a nerve that was touching a vertebrae. I did everything but fly a kite in a thunderstorm to relieve the pain.

Since I was very apprehensive about BACK SURGERY, I figured interviewing some doctors would help. So I did my research, read bios, surgery experience for my particular condition, testimonials etc. One of the surgeons I visited was Dr. Jeffrey Carlson; he won out. I even felt happy after I left his office. He looked at my MRI, pointed to the issue and explained clearly how he would fix it. Answered my questions and provided literature for me to review. GREAT! That’s what I needed. My apprehension disappeared.

The surgery day was exactly as described, the pre- and post-op experience was great. I AM NOW PAIN FREE. I CAN WALK WITHOUT SCREAMING OUT IN SUDDEN PAIN. Thank GOD! I am going to physical therapy now, to strengthen my muscles and stretch them out.

I have no complaints. Dr. Carlson has a very good bedside manner, he listens and helps you to understand your issue, he was very confident of my outcome which gave me the confidence to proceed with the surgery. Thank you, Dr. Carlson!!!!!


John Asby – Multi-level Cervical Spine Fusion & Laminectomy

I have been living in excruciating pain and torment for years. I have also visited the top docs in the country (Philadelphia Eagles Spine Surgeon, Johns Hopkins and many more). They all agreed that my spine was a mess, but some thought that surgery wouldn’t help in the pain I was describing to them. They also differed on when I needed the surgery and how much to fix.

I had recently heard of a local surgeon who had done amazing things and had also first-hand friends describe their experience with him. Dr. Jeffrey Carlson said I needed major surgery, a C3-C7 fusion and laminectomy. I knew what that entailed due to my extensive research. My research revealed that the recovery pain was horrible and major meds would be needed. Also, Dr. Carlson agreed with the other surgeons that he couldn’t guarantee the head pain relief, but assured me relief of the arm pain that kept me up every night for years.

After 2 years of battling a decision and trying many other non- surgical procedures and and medications, I decided to go with it. I had nothing to lose, as I wished for death instead of the continuance of what I was living with.

I had the surgery last Wednesday, February 1st, 2017. That night, I started to come out of the surgery fog and became clear minded. From that point on, I have experienced none of the previous crippling headaches and have had zero arm pain. I have energy and clarity like never before, even under plenty of high power medications. The recovery pain was so minimal, I tried to eliminate the pain medications the day I went home (one day in hospital). That was a mistake, so it took 1/2 day to correct my stupidity and get back on track.


(This photo shows the gravity of the surgery).

It has now been 6 days and I am on half of the prescribed pain meds and really have incredible energy and no pain. This is very hard to believe and my family is so thankful to God for giving us Dr. Carlson.

P.S.   As an engineer, I research everything. I looked at Dr. Carlson’s resume and it is quite impressive academically, but the testimonies of the folks I spoke with are the real proof. He could probably serve at any of the big names like Mayo, Johns Hopkins, etc., if he wished. I am so glad he didn’t choose that path.

Thank you, Thank you, Thank You, and most of all, Thanks to God!

John Asby

Douglas Dail – Spine Surgery



On Jan. 11th, 2016, I received nothing short of a “MIRACLE” surgery by the truly talented, skilled and “BLESSED” mind and hands of Dr. Jeffrey R. Carlson… the Orthopaedic & Spine Center staff and Dr. Carlson’s entire team! I had no idea that this major lower back surgery would change my life so much! I “TRULY” wish I could have met this Dr. decades ago! After almost 25 years of only being able to walk from room to room with a cane, or out to the car and having to spend the largest part of my life and time in bed due to my daily life of only “PAIN” when I sit, stood or even tried to walk. My life had gotten to not being much of a way to live! “ONLY” those whom have been going through this living “HECK (read between the lines)” can ever understand the pain!

I was given a second lease in my daily life of being able to actually walk without a cane and after a few months of Physical Therapy I started to regain the ability to work around the yard and even had the joy of being able to wash my car by hand…I thought my days of ever doing that again were long past. Now I am staying up a lot longer and having a real QUALITY of life by being able to do things and participate with my grand kids and family. I can drive myself, it is wonderful to be able to go by myself and know I don’t have to have someone else drive me where I need(ed) to go. Things we all take for granted until we can’t do them.

I “KNOW” Dr. Carlson went to bat for me several times dealing with the insurance company. Making sure had everything I needed for a safe and positive recovery. From the very day I was released to go home, he had everything in place from my in house home care, such as the walker, the bathroom needs (and you do need a few adjustments) My home care specialist and follow-ups were wonderful. I can’t praise each and everyone involved enough. Dr. Carlson and his entire staff are in each and every prayer I say many times a day!


Douglas Dail

Bruce Liles – Spine Surgery

Bruce LilesMy name is Bruce Liles and I am 59 years old. I have lived and worked in Newport News, VA since the early 70’s. I have always been very active. I work out at the gym several times a week and our family goes on active vacations, including snow skiing, camping, hiking and white-water rafting. I played sports in High School and I am a former casual runner and enjoy an occasional round of golf. My wife and I also enjoy working in the yard and flower beds.

A few years ago, I began to experience low back and right leg pain. I began to moderate some of my activity to try and reduce the frequency and duration of the flare-ups and began a more rigorous stretching routine. This helped for a while, but then the pain began to get worse and more frequent. I was referred to a local neurosurgeon and after reviewing an MRI of my spine, he told me nothing could be done surgically, given the severity of the degenerative disc disease at the L5-S1 level of my lower spine. According to what he found on the MRI, a nerve that was being compressed was causing the pain. He referred me to a Pain Management Doctors for the Lumbar Spine Epidural Injections, in an effort to reduce the inflammation causing the nerve compression.

I had a total of 3 injections over a one and a half year period. The initial injection helped temporarily, but the remaining injections were not helpful. The pain began to become unbearable, disrupting every aspect of my life. The pain became so constant and severe that I was unable to get a good night’s sleep. I could not lay flat on my back. I was unable to get a good night’s sleep. I could not lay flat on my back. I was unable to stand or walk for any length of time. I had to limit my activity level due to the pain. I was using ice and anti-inflammatories for some temporary relief. I was feeling very desperate and at my wit’s end. I was also not very good company, due to the pain and lack of sleep. My wife can attest to this.

After conducting some research about local surgeons who might be able to help, I made an appointment with Dr. Jeffrey Carlson, an Orthopaedic surgeon with Orthopaedic and Spine Center in Newport News. Dr. Carlson specializes in disorders of the spine. I met with Dr. Carlson and after reviewing a recent MRI and taking a history and physical, he sat me down, smiled and said very calmly, “I can fix this”. As you can imagine, I was a bit skeptical, but at the same time, Dr. Carlson’s sense of confidence in his abilities to help me and his “no-nonsense” demeanor intrigued me. After contemplating the procedure Dr. Carlson recommended and conducting some additional research, and enduring a couple more weeks of pain, I decided to move forward with the surgery.

A few days later, I met with Dr. Carlson’s surgical scheduler, Kaye Dame. Kaye took care of all of the details, including coordinating the details with my insurance company and scheduling all of the post-surgical activity, including Physical Therapy and follow-up appointments. Kaye was very efficient, informative and helpful. She was super-friendly and concerned that things were taken care of every step of the way.

Dr. Carlson met with me the morning of my surgery and explained in detail what was going to happen and answered all of my questions. Once again, his calm and confident demeanor put me at ease. Dr. Carlson performed a laminectomy, decompression and fusion at the L4-5 level and L5-S1 level of my lower spine. In layman’s terms, he removed the part of my spine that was compressing the nerve and used two titanium rods and screws to stabilize the spine in an attempt to eliminate any further trouble in this area. The surgery took about an hour and a half.

After being moved to my room and coming to, the first thing I noticed after coming to my senses that I was flat on my back and I felt no pain! Later, I decided to take a short walk down the hallway and after a few steps, again no pain! I spend that night in the hospital and Dr. Carlson came to check on me several times that day, as well as right before I was discharged the next afternoon.

I had several follow-up appointments with Dr. Carlson to have the area x-rayed to make certain everything was as it should be. It should be noted that every time I have scheduled an appointment with the office, I have never had to wait more than 5 minutes beyond the appointment time. All of the staff, including the receptionists, Physician’s Assistants, Nurses and radiology staff were very friendly, efficient , caring and professional. I was always treated with respect and the staff have shown incredible empathy toward me during my interactions with them.

Today, I am doing extremely well. I am pain free! I have had no lingering side-effects whatsoever and it is as though I never had a problem. I am back to my old self and prior activity level. My association with OSC has been a life-changer for me. A heartfelt thank you goes out to Dr. Carlson (my hero and a great surgeon!), Kaye Dame and the rest of the staff at OSC.

Thank you,
Bruce Liles
April 20, 2014

Jeff Hughes – Spine Surgery

Physician – Dr. Jeffrey Carlson
Hi, my name is Jefferson (Jeff) Hughes and the following is my testimonial regarding the lower-back surgery performed by Dr. Carlson of the Orthopedic & Spine Center (OSC) of Newport News, Virginia, on 11 June 2012.

I come from a Military family (father retired from the (USAF), served in the USAF and retired with Disability (DAV) after having severe trauma to both knees; and have been a Peninsula resident for the past 40 years.

Currently, I’m a Civil Service employee with the Department of Navy, with 34+ years, and in the final process of “Retirement”, slated for this December of 2012.
From my military upbringing and service to the Government, I’m from the “Old-School, suck it up and keep on going, no-pain-no gain” philosophy. That worked pretty good except as I got older and my body started to tell me more, that aches and pains are not “normal”.

Having been diagnosed and treated for Congestive Heart Failure, High Blood Pressure, High Cholesterol, weight gain (50 pounds over AMA level), during the past year, Depression, Upset/Sour Stomach and “NO” energy, due to the pain that I have experienced over the past 5 years. With the pain (back, arms and legs), I woke up in the mornings- tired, went to work-tired, sat around and tried to perform my duties, and then came home, cooked, fed the dog, took care of my ailing wife, and then go to bed and start the same thing, over and over.

Everything came to a head around the 8th of May 2012, while I was at work; I couldn’t get out of my office chair. I called my Family Physician to see if I could see him that day to find out what was going on. My Supervisor helped get me on my feet , and then to my vehicle, (seemed to be able to drive OK), and upon arrival to my doctor’s office, I was in so much pain that I lost most of the feeling in my right leg. Doctor took a look at me, thinking it could be a reaction to my Cholesterol drug, took me off it and gave me a prescription for pain, a steroid-drug (anti-inflammatory), and referred me to see Doctor Snyder from OSC to check out my lower back.

Upon seeing Doctor Snyder and having (state-of-the-art, in-house) x-rays and MRIs (in the course of 1 week), it was determined that I had a herniated Lumbar Disc that was putting pressure on the Sciatic nerve to my right leg.

Course of action was to “rest”, continue the pain management and to see Doctor Sureja from the OSC-family (OSC is a very close knit line of professional personnel with one goal – to help the patient) to have a lower-spinal Epidural injection to see if that would relieve the pressure on the nerve.

I went back to Dr. Snyder in three weeks after injection and I was still having pain and tingling in my right leg. I was referred to Dr. Carlson to see what other options I had. I had only two (2), try the injection again or surgery. Dr. Carlson explained the procedure and risks and then left it up to me. I told him, I was tired of hurting all the time; that the injection in my opinion, didn’t work, so I gave him the go-ahead for surgery. Doctor Carlson was very informative, as well as his staff, that made the next step (surgery) easy and not stressful. I think my family and friends were more under stress because the nature of my up-coming surgery.

OSC staff was very helpful on scheduling pre-OP appointments, necessary post-OP equipment (walker, Bone Stimulator, in-house nurse visits and PT). On arrival at the hospital on the day of surgery, I met with Dr. Carlson and his team, talked a little bit about what was going to happen and Doctor Carlson told me everything will be fine. Doctor Carlson removed the lamina around my spine, that was putting pressure on the Sciatic nerve leading to my right leg, repaired the herniated disc and then inserted the spinal “fusion” fixation of pins and screws.

Woke up in the recovery room and Doctor Carlson said everything went fine. He asked how I felt, to wiggle my toes and if I had any pain. I felt GREAT, no pain, a little swelling the lower back, but overall GREAT. Afterwards, was moved to my room and the next morning, PT had me up and walking. No stopping since, could sit up, put on my back brace, got out of bed, and with the aid of my walker (only needed it for 3 days) off I went- walking with NO pain. Was discharged from the hospital two (2) days after surgery, went home, had Home-care (nurse daily visits and PT), kept myself mobile and was walking over 1-mile five (5) days after surgery.

Had follow-up with Doctor Carlson ten (10) days after surgery, where the staples were removed, x-rays taken (to make sure everything was in proper position) and where he answered all my questions. I informed Doctor Carlson that after years of no energy, tired all of the time, pain and general depression, I felt GREAT, almost like a 20 year old. Blood-pressure readings are back to normal, I no longer have stomach problems, can actually go up and down stairs with no shortness of breath and the biggest of all – NO PAIN.

Knowing that I have months of wearing of the Back Brace and Bone-Stimulator, if this is all the minor aches and pains I get, bring it on- I’m ready to take back my life and get on with it.

From the bottom of my “Heart” – THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU, Doctor Carlson and all of the OSC Team. Retirement is looking GOOD now.

Jefferson H. Hughes

Harry E. Waters – Spine Surgery

Physician – Dr. Carlson

Last Christmas (2012) I could walk our two Yorkshire Terriers only a few minutes before the neuropathy in both legs caused me to stop. My lower back had been sore for several years. A series of epidurals hadn’t helped. My wife encouraged me to see Dr. Carlson as he had treated her for a neck problem, and the rest is history. A MRI showed the extent of my problem and we determined surgery was necessary.

In February 2013, Dr. Carlson performed a Lumbar Fusion and Lumbar Laminectomy at Mary Immaculate Hospital. I stayed in the hospital for two days and then came home with a visiting nurse and physical therapist. The neuropathy was gone, there was some discomfort for several weeks, but nothing like the discomfort I experienced before the surgery. One of the keys to my recovery was a lot of walking: I wore the legs off a walker going around the neighborhood. I have had two follow-up appointments with Dr. Carlson and all is healing well.

I cannot say enough about the staff at Orthopaedic & Spine Center and Mary Immaculate, they smile and make you feel welcome. Also the physical therapists on the second floor are really good.

The bottom line is that the dogs are enjoying much longer walks and the pain is done. Additionally, my wife says I’m easier to live with.