Hometown: Lake Oswego, OR
Indications: Degenerative Disc Disease
Levels treated: L2-3
Surgery date: June 14, 2006
Life Prior to Surgery:
“It was a constant, grinding pain. I couldn’t even bend over to wash my face.” That’s how Nate “Rock” Quarry describes the crippling back pain that almost cost him his career.
Mixed martial arts captivated Nate from the moment he watched his first UFC® fight at age 24. Eager to master the discipline, he started training at the local gym, soon becoming qualified to compete. Hard work, a stint on The Ultimate Fighter® reality television show, and a gracious demeanor all combined to launch his successful career as a UFC fighter.
Then came back pain. At first, it was little more than a bothersome ache, but over the next few years, the pain turned into an opponent more formidable than any he’d ever faced on the mat. Nate tried medication, physical therapy, and chiropractic treatment, but the pain was relentless. “Everything I was doing was so painful,” he says. “I was in so much pain, I could hardly train at all. I was on all sorts of painkillers to get through the day. They just masked the pain. It was a path to nowhere.”
The pain didn’t just interfere with his training. It also prevented him from participating in activities with his daughter. “I couldn’t even pick up my little girl because I was in so much pain,” he recalls. “I had very little energy. I would have to watch her play instead of being able to chase her around.”
Concerned about losing his career and tired of the daily struggle to function normally, Nate sought treatment.
His surgeon diagnosed him with degenerative disc disease and suggested he undergo XLIF® (eXtreme Lateral Interbody Fusion) surgery. This minimally disruptive procedure utilizes a lateral approach (through the patient’s side) to access the affected area, while minimizing disruption of the tissue and musculature surrounding the spine.
Even after learning that patients can experience less blood loss, a shorter hospital stay, and a faster recovery with the XLIF procedure as opposed to traditional back surgery, Nate was in no rush to schedule time in the operating room. “I was scared,” he admits. “Everyone told me that my life would never be the same if I had back surgery. Nate weighed the risks and benefits of the proposed surgery for several months before deciding to undergo a one-level procedure in June 2006.
Nate was up and walking the day after surgery. Within a week, he was discharged from the hospital and able to walk up and down stairs.
“After the surgery, I no longer had pain in my back,” he states. To facilitate his recovery, he began a program of core exercises and stretching.
Three months later, he began training again. “Getting back into shape was a struggle,” he says. However, he remained focused on his goal and set his sights on his next fight.
Nate made a full comeback, returning to the Octagon just 15 months after having the XLIF procedure. “My life was reduced so much because of the back pain,” recalls Nate. “Now I have a new lease on life without back pain.”