NuVasive Patient Success Story: Cyndi

Since its inception in 2010, NuVasive’s the Better Way Back (TBWB) program has been committed to raising public awareness of spine disorders and educating patients, loved ones, clinicians, and healthcare providers about treatment options, including surgery. Changing patient lives and empowering patients to make informed treatment choices are the heart of the program’s mission. In this series, you will hear from some of our own TBWB patient ambassadors who are dedicated to sharing their stories of challenge and hope.

Hometown: Atlanta, GA

Surgeon: Dr. Robert Ayer, Apex Spine and Neurosurgery

Procedure: XLIF, PSF L3-L5

Surgery date: July 17, 2018

 About Cyndi

In 2007, Cyndi was thrown from a horse and broke her right scapula. No one can say for sure, but she feels that the accident may have been an entry point for her back issues. When she sought medical advice for her condition in 2012, she was told that she needed to lose weight and she needed to “get over it.” Determined to help herself, Cyndi reached a healthier weight and tried every conservative treatment option she could. Still her pain defeated her, until it became physically impossible for her to stand up straight anymore. In fact, she remembers humorously that in her first meeting with Dr. Ayer she was awkwardly bent over the exam table when he entered the room, because it was the only way she could get relief. Gently but firmly, Dr. Ayer explained that she had exhausted all her options, and encouraged her to let him know when she was ready for surgery. A self-proclaimed stubborn patient, Cyndi still delayed scheduling her surgery. “I waited so long because I didn’t want to be stopped! I didn’t want to be held by with time in the hospital and recovery,” she shared candidly. She was more afraid of hitting pause than the surgery itself. Then one day, sobbing at home in pain, she knew it was time to take the next step to get her life back.


Degenerative disc disease (DDD), scoliosis 

Path to treatment

Physical therapy, medications, chiropractic care, injections, nerve ablation

Procedure overview


Life now

“When I woke up from surgery, I could tell he had fixed my back! That aggravating pain I’d had for years was gone,” Cyndi exclaimed. She was walking within hours of her surgery, and was climbing steps the next day, but that first week was still categorized as “rough.” Barely two months post-op, Cyndi and her husband, Bill, celebrated their wedding anniversary with a trip to the beach. They went sailing, had a grand time, and Cyndi reports that she had no pain at all. She even proudly sported her bikini, unashamed of her new scars. These days, Cyndi is back to being unstoppable. She has made some lifestyle modifications—like no jet-skiing—but is back to walking her dogs, taking camping trips, and best of all, feeling normal.


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Each individual’s surgical procedure and recovery may deviate from what is described herein. This information is not intended to supersede or supplant the information provided by your doctor.

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