Back to Life...and Back on the Dance Floor

Severe Spinal Stenosis
When Leonard Marcus, a 72-year-old retired physician, began experiencing debilitating back and leg problems he knew it was time to find relief from his pain. Severe spinal stenosis was causing Leonard to miss out on the activities he enjoyed most. An avid dancer and adventure traveler, he was forced to cut back on his favorite hobbies as his pain got worse.


“I came to the Spine Center at Newton-Wellesley to determine the best way to get relief from my pain,” says Leonard. “After I retired, I really wanted to start dancing. I have always loved all types of dance – hip hop, break dancing and ballroom. Due to the pain, my movements were very limited and I had to stop attending my dance lessons.”


Treatment at the Spine Center
When Leonard first came to the Spine Center, he was treated by physiatrist, Joanne Borg-Stein, MD, Medical Director. Dr. Borg- Stein recommended starting with physical therapy and lumbar epidural injections at the Pain Center to provide relief from his pain. The Spine Center works closely with the Pain Management Service at Newton-Wellesley, which offers a focused approach of care for people with acute and chronic pain. Leonard visited Paul Satwicz, MD, anesthesiologist and Director of Pain Management for his lumbar epidural injections.

“Our team of specialists works together to develop treatment plans tailored to each individual patient’s needs,” says Dr. Satwicz. “Our primary goal is to reduce or eliminate pain and enable our patients to achieve the highest level of function and independence possible.”

While Leonard had some short-term relief of pain, his symptoms reoccurred. Often as spinal stenosis progresses, symptoms no longer respond to conservative treatment such as medications, physical therapy and epidural spinal injections. This is common for patients with degenerative lumbar stenosis.

“He did very well with this pain management technique, which can be a good predictor of response to surgery. So when he began experiencing pain again, we decided it would be a good time to look into his surgical options,” says Dr. Borg-Stein.

Good Candidate for Surgery
After meeting with Leonard again, Dr. Borg-Stein knew he would be a good candidate for surgery.


“Leonard is slender, fit and athletically active, which helps recovery,” adds Dr. Borg-Stein. “He was having substantial leg pain that often is helped by surgery. I wanted to help Leonard get back on the dance floor!”

To learn more about the surgery, Leonard decided to meet with Scott Tromanhauser, MD, Surgeon at the Spine Center to discuss his surgical options for alleviating the pain and restoring his quality of life.

Lumbar Laminotomy
“When I met with Dr. Marcus we discussed a procedure called a lumbar laminotomy,” says Dr. Tromanhauser. “During lumbar decompression surgery, a small portion of the bone over the nerve root or disc material from under the nerve root is removed to give the root more space – essentially taking the pressure off the nerve.”

Dr. Tromanhauser assured Leonard that he would make the procedure as minimally invasive as possible.

“He was so thorough in explaining exactly what it would entail,” says Leonard.” I was confident that he had my best interest at heart.”

Instant Relief
After his surgery, Leonard had relief the minute he woke up. “The second I opened my eyes after my procedure, I couldn’t feel any pain in my leg or back,” he says. “My recovery was rapid. Once I left the Hospital, I immediately started doing physical therapy, which helped me gain back my strength quickly. Working with Cody Weisbach in the Physical Therapy Department at Newton- Wellesley has helped me regain my quality of life much faster.”

Before his surgery, Leonard’s movement had been very limited and he was not able to do any dancing. Soon after his procedure, he was feeling well enough to restart his dance lessons and work on a routine for an upcoming showcase. Leonard wowed the crowd with his rendition of a Hip Hop/Cha Cha number that got a good review from a professional dance judge.

Dancing Again
“Leonard was determined to get back to dancing,” says Dr. Tromanhauser. “I had my doubts, but he washed those away when I got my first invitation to see him perform. I think it is a testament to how determination and positive thinking can help you get back to previous levels of functioning after spine surgery. He didn't let having surgery scare him away from trying and he obviously succeeded.”

Leonard is very happy with his active lifestyle. He still dances, takes Zumba classes, weight trains and attends physical therapy sessions. He has also been taking adventure vacations and recently returned from an African safari.

“One of the treks on our safari was the most difficult I have ever attempted to climb. I would never be able to do this if I hadn’t taken care of my back problem,” says Leonard. “I wouldn’t be enjoying my life without the help of Newton-Wellesley Hospital. The top quality medical staff and all of the clinical staff I came in contact with helped me regain my quality of life.”

For more information about the Spine Center at Newton-Wellesley Hospital, call CareFinder at 1-866-NWH-DOCS (694-3627) or visit our website at

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