Jo Nolan's Story


I first met Mr Martin Knight in 2012 and learnt about the wonderful, pioneering and interesting work he does in regard to back pain and disc problems. In 2009 I had had 3 discs removed in my neck, which left me with a large scar on my neck and postoperative paralysis in my right arm for a number of weeks and now a permanent loss of nerve sensation in the arm. When in early 2012 I realised I had similar symptoms of disc problems in my lower back my GP referred me to a neurosurgeon, who, following an MRI scan diagnosed a herniated disc. I was given a CT guided pain block, which although was successful at the time, the technique he used left me with temporary paralysis and required me to be admitted into the hospital for 6 hours.

When the pain returned I was very hesitant to go back to the neurosurgeon and certainly didn’t want to go through major spinal surgery with all the consequences as I had before. Therefore I made an appointment to see Martin Knight at Fawkham Manor Hospital in Kent. Having met a number of consultants, as both a patient and through my professional life, I really have never met such a person as Martin Knight. He oozes compassion and understanding, and although I could never have been described as someone with such dreadful back pain I was housebound or unable to walk, as some of his patients describe, he totally understood that the pain was restricting my working and personal life. I was in constant pain when driving and sitting and hadn’t had a night’s sleep for months. He understood all of this and never once made me feel that I was unworthy of his support. At all the consultations he included my husband and when we had X-rays and MRI scans done he explained everything in great detail, but in such a way, that as non-medical people, we understood all his clinical terminology. We did discuss conventional surgery and all the other options I had, but when the MRI scans showed early signs of further disc erosion in other parts of my back I knew then that fusing the disc was not an option and therefore we decided on my course of action.

First, in July 2012, having a holiday booked and worried that the pain would result in us having to cancel it I had a nerve block done, which gave me a few weeks of temporary relief.

I had my TELDF in October 2012 at Fawkham Manor Hospital, and although it was a strange experience, being sedated and not having a full general anaesthetic, it helped me understand what the procedure was actually all about, with more of a focus of reliving the nerve pain symptoms rather than the disc removal. The procedure itself was uncomfortable but I was never in pain as it was all so well controlled by the whole team in theatre. I was virtually pain free from the minute I returned to my room. Plus I had no after effects of a general anaesthetic having only been sedated.

Although the recovery wasn’t quite as simple as that, I was given some excellent information and good pain relief to take at home, and it was drummed into me that I wasn’t to do anything. I returned to work after 6 weeks and to doing (gentle) Pilates in January. Instead of a 18cm scar I got from the conventional surgery on my neck, I have a tiny 1 cm mark on my back, which is virtually unnoticeable.

Having experienced both conventional spinal surgery and TELDF I find it hard to believe that this procedure has yet to be approved by NICE and the NHS, as there are so many people that should be given the opportunity to have this.

If anyone is hesitating about this procedure, please just go for it, as it really has changed my life.

"Jo and her Husband seen here Diving after her Endoscopic Operation"