Peoria Woman Undergoes Life-Changing Spinal Fusion

Facing constant pain caused by a degenerative disc in her lower spine, a Peoria woman has undergone a complex lumbar fusion at Barrow Neurological Institute.

In the 20 months since the operation, Ashley Skeeters has given birth to her third child and returned to the golf course.

Barrow patient Ashley Skeeters with her new baby
Barrow patient Ashley Skeeters with her new baby.

“I have more mobility now than I did prior to surgery,” says Skeeters, 34, who works in software marketing specializing in country club hospitality. “The common myth with fusions is that you have decreased mobility.”

Skeeters opted to have the surgery in June 2017 after her back pain became so bad that she couldn’t get out of bed some days. “I think I have a pretty high tolerance for pain, but this was just misery. I couldn’t imagine living my life like this,” Skeeters says.

For a time, Skeeters relied on painkillers but knew that they weren’t a long-term solution. After speaking with numerous back specialists, she decided that neurosurgery was her best option. Skeeters chose Dr. Laura Snyder at Barrow Neurological Institute, home to one of the world’s leading spinal neurosurgery programs.

Photograph of spine surgeon Laura Snyder
Dr. Laura Snyder
Barrow Neurosurgeon

A lumbar fusion operation joins, or fuses, two or more vertebrae in the lumbar region (the lower back) to stabilize painful motion. In Skeeter’s case, stability translated into the ability to resume her normal activities.

“I like seeing my patients go back to work,” said Dr. Snyder. “I understand when my patients tell me they want to return to being outside and active, and I enjoy helping them do so.”

Skeeter’s post-operation rehabilitation took three months, and she was off pain medications after one day. Six months after the procedure, Skeeters was back on the golf course. Perhaps fittingly, her game improved after she underwent the same surgery as Tiger Woods.

“I was able to follow through, full extension. I wasn’t golfing like Charles Barkley any more,” Skeeters says with a chuckle.

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