Elise Stettner

Elise Stettner

I lived with spondylolisthesis and spinal stenosis for many years. I’m a physical therapist and lead an active lifestyle so I did not wish to slow down. I lived through lower back pain and numbness of my toes and part of my feet by using over the counter medications and adapting my physical movements to compensate for my condition.  

I didn’t pursue treatment for many years until the time finally arrived when my entire left leg would become totally numb causing me to lose control of the movement of that leg after walking only one or two blocks. When that happened, I would need to stop walking for a minute or two until the numbness subsided so that I was able to regain control of my leg and resume walking. This happened repeatedly until either I sat down to rest for 15 to 20 minutes or I was done walking. Having already tried physical therapy exercises on my own, I decided to see an anesthesiologist for a series of three epidurals. While the numbness in my feet and left leg and other symptoms totally went away, they always slowly reoccurred. It was then that I knew the epidurals were not a long-term solution. 

I then sought the opinion of a neurologist who discussed my situation with me. He indicated that if I delayed surgery any longer, I would be putting myself in a very dangerous situation. That’s when I decided to find a qualified surgeon. 

 As a physical therapist, I was familiar with spine doctors in New York City, and specifically with Dr. Cammisa. Over the years I heard firsthand how he had successfully treated patients of other physical therapists that I knew.

During my initial appointment I was examined first by Dr. Cammisa’s physician assistant (PA) and then by Dr. Cammisa. During my exam he asked me questions and discussed my scans with me. He was very direct and clear about what needed to be done. He spent time listening to me very carefully and answered all my questions. This discussion assured me that he had all the necessary information about me prior to doing the surgery. At the conclusion of my appointment I felt very reassured that I had chosen the right surgeon. 

I underwent a fusion with rods and laminectomy on both sides of my spine and needed to wear a brace for a few months afterwards, which I was fitted for at my first appointment. I could walk normally immediately after my surgery and the symptoms in my left leg were totally gone. I did still have the partial numbness in my feet and toes. I was able to walk one hour each day. I immediately resumed all nonstrenuous activities at home and, after 3 months, I slowly resumed my gardening, spin class and gym exercise routine.  

I can’t begin to express how grateful I am to Dr. Cammisa and the entire staff. Everyone in the office was very nice, professional and efficient. I knew how unstable my spine was and my symptoms were frightening, but now I have my life back thanks to Dr. Cammisa. I often think of him as I go about my busy life and continue to send him a card every Thanksgiving to tell him how thankful I am.