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  • Qualifying to participate in September’s Ironman 70.3 World Championship would be a remarkable achievement for anybody, but imagine doing so just eight weeks after surgery for spondylolisthesis. That is exactly what 58-year-old Georgie Edmiston accomplished, and the Pennsylvania man is giving much of the credit to the healthcare team that performed his surgery and helped him through his recovery and rehabilitation.


    Edmiston explains that though he has been a competitive athlete since his 20s, the degenerative condition had put a halt to his training and prevented him from weightlifting, running and swimming. “I came to the conclusion that my racing days were over,” he said, and adjusted his expectations to being able to do the other things that gave him joy in his life. But when conservative measures including physical therapy, injections, and nerve ablation failed to provide enough relief even “to be able to play with and pick up my grandson,” he opted for minimally invasive surgery with the hopes that it would remove pressure on the nerve and provide him with an improved quality of life. 


    Despite being ranked 25th in the United States in Ironman Triathlon racing and being considered a Gold All World Athlete by the Ironman organization, he had not counted on continuing to compete after the surgery. But when his physician’s recovery plan included a return to exercising he followed the instructions to the letter. “If he said I could start riding two weeks post-op, I did. Swimming three weeks post-op, I was in the pool. Five weeks post-op, I could run. I was running.” He also participated in a strength training program developed by a local gym owner and his personal coach. Both credit his remarkable recovery to his mental strength and discipline. 


    Edmiston’s orthopedic surgeon had been unaware that his patient had been in Hawaii in late June, just 8 weeks after the surgery. His initial reaction was concern over discomfort Edmiston might have experienced during the long flight. Then he found out that the reason for the trip was to participate in the Ironman event. “I was floored,” he said. “It was beyond belief that anyone could recover that fast.” Edmiston swam 1.2 miles, biked 56 miles, and ran 13.1 miles in 5 hours, 24 minutes and 23 seconds, placing seventh in the 55-59 age group. On July 11th he participated in another Ironman event held in Geneva, New York, where he finished fourth in his age group with a time of 4:51:47. He hopes to compete in one more event before the September World Championships.


    Though the patients we see at our New Jersey spine surgery practice may not be classified as being in the top 1% of all athletes in their age group (as Edmiston is), they can achieve the same type of pain relief that he did. Speaking of the days before his surgery he says, “My back issues were a persistent problem and increased in severity over time. I pretty much exhausted all of my options … with results providing little relief for a short period of time to no relief at all.” With the help of minimally invasive spine surgery, he is back to doing what he loves.

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