Road to Recovery: A Case Study on Lower Back Pain

Student Author(s)

Riley Hoernschemeyer

Faculty Mentor(s)

Dr. Kirk Brumels and Professor Margaret Frens

Document Type


Event Date



A significant percentage of the United States population experience or will experience lower back pain within their life. Symptoms can originate from several different pathologies and/or circumstances resulting in a debilitated lifestyle. Many of the people living with pain associated with the lower back are not found within youthful Americans. In this case study, we trace the journey of a 21-year-old collegiate non-athlete across a variety of medical consultations in pursuit of answers to her severe lower back pain. Over a 15-month span, the patient investigated multiple different treatment options and medical opinions in an attempt to decrease the pain she was experiencing in order to return to activities of daily living. Unfortunately no conservative treatment plan produced a resolution in her symptoms and the patient entertained surgical options. Through much consideration, our patient decided to proceed with an Anterior Lumbar Interbody Fusion (ALIF) procedure. This presentation will provide an explanation of the anatomy associated with various common lumbar spine pathologies, as well as an in-depth description of the ALIF procedure.

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