Oumaima 2
Tunisian expatriate and physical exercise instructor Manai Oumaima. Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: A spine specialist at a Dubai hospital was able to surgically resolve a bulging spine issue of a young physical exercise (PE) instructor with minimal invasive surgery that allowed her to resume her physical fitness schedule — thanks to the timely intervention.

Last month, Manai Oumaima, a 32-year-old Tunisian expatriate and PE instructor at an Ajman school, woke up one morning with a shoulder pain. “I am a very fit individual and know exactly what exercises should be done. So I had not done anything to strain my shoulder, yet there was this pain,” Oumaima told Gulf News.

Screaming in agony

The pain was so severe, that the young lady who always loved the outdoors and inspired youngsters to follow a fitness schedule, soon found herself bed-ridden and in pain. “What seemed like a shoulder discomfort morphed into a severe disabling pain in my neck. The pain was so bad that my left arm was throbbing and I reached the hospital, crying aloud in agony.”

Pain caused by a bulging spine

Oumaima then consulted Dr Shahid Khan, consultant orthopaedic surgeon specialising in spine surgery, at Burjeel Hospital, Dubai. Dr Khan recalled: “I was surprised to see a young and physically fit woman walk into my consulting room with her left arm over her head, crying out in pain. She said she was suffering from progressively worsening pain for the last ten days. Therefore, I ordered an MRI and the scan showed that her C5-C6 disc was bulging on her spinal cord. This had triggered the unbearable pain that was also numbing her side and her extremities”

Manai Oumaima with Dr Shahid Khan after the surgery. Image Credit: Supplied

Rare condition

Usually a bulge in a cervical spine is a rare condition for a young and fit person. Dr Khan added: “This young lady clearly loved exercising and was not overweight and yet she had a problem, which I usually see in much older people.” There was no time to be lost and the young woman underwent a special surgery called the anterior cervical discectomy and fusion at the Medeor Hospital.

Elaborating on the surgery, Dr Khan said: “I conducted a minimally invasive surgery with microscopic instruments that were introduced inside Oumaima through a small nick on the right side of her neck. It was tricky as the bulging disc was attached to the cord and any miscalculation would have paralysed her. I was successfully able to remove the bulging disc, replace it with a metal cage of titanium filled up with bone graft. The bone graft would help the cage integrate with the rest of the cervical spine and soon she was able to resume 100 per cent of her active life.

Quick recovery

Oumaima was thankful because within a couple of days after the surgery, she was able to stand up without any pain. The surgery helped the metal mesh fuse completely with the rest of the cervical spine structure. It has been two weeks since the surgery. Although Oumaima has resumed all activities, she will need to undergo physiotherapy for rehabilitation of the spine. “I intend to get back to my physical fitness regime within a month and am thankful to Dr Khan who efficiently addressed the issue.”

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Do not ignore spinal or back pain

Dr Khan advised all youngsters with frequent back and spine pains not to ignore them and consult a spine specialist. “If at all there is a niggling pain or numbness in that area, it is important that people consult their doctor immediately. Sometimes, a delay can lead to paralysis, he cautioned.

If a patient is physically fit and has his or her weight under control, then he or she can keep the spine and back healthy and strong with regular exercise. Exercise can help strengthen the core muscle, which in turn supports the spine and the back. This prevents complications even in the event of an injury.”