Woman walks 100 miles after having back surgery for scoliosis

Hooks, screws, and rods are normally found in a hardware store, not someone's back. But thanks to all that metal, one woman can walk for days, literally.
Published: May. 11, 2023 at 10:58 PM EDT
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - On a warm, spring day, it’s perfect day for a walk.

Jennifer White walks down the road at Calvary Cemetery, a road she’s very familiar with.

“I was here twice a day,” White said. “In the morning and in the evening doing 10 miles a day here.”

10 miles is a lot for anyone. For White, it’s nothing short of a miracle.

She had scoliosis as a kid, which was never treated.

“At the time they didn’t think it was going to get any worse,” White said.

Dr. Charles H. Crawford III is an Orthopedic Spine Surgeon at the Norton Leatherman Spine Center.

“As she aged and lived her life, her scoliosis became worse,” Crawford said.

He was White’s surgeon.

“When we talk about scoliosis, we’re talking about a curvature in this frontal plane or what we call the coronal plane,” Crawford said.

When you compare the curvature in White’s spine, to the model spine Dr. Crawford has in a exam room, you can see the problem.

“When I first saw the image of my back and I was shocked,” White said. “At the time the recommendation was surgery.”

She didn’t elect for surgery right away, but after some time and traveling, it got bad enough to have the procedure.

That’s when she met Dr. Crawford.

“When I first met her, I thought she would be a great surgical candidate,” Crawford said. “She really is motivated person, she has very healthy lifestyle behaviors.”

She had the surgery early 2022.

4 rods, 8 hooks, and 26 screws later, White’s back is as straight as the same model spine from before.

“After the surgery, one of the attending surgeons came in and showed me a picture of my spine post surgery,” White said. “The first thing I noticed was that there were four rods and I thought I was getting one.”

Three months after the surgery, Dr. Crawford gave White the green light to get back to her active lifestyle.

That brings back to the road at Calvary Cemetery, where White built up the ability to walk Hadrian’s Wall in England.

“We hiked 101 miles in 7 days,” White said.

That’s just a fraction of what she plans to do next fall.

“We’re doing the Via Francigena in three phases. It’s almost 1100 miles,” White said.

When it comes to her feats and plans, Dr. Crawford isn’t surprised at all.

“I knew she was a special person,” Crawford said. “This was a special case, and obviously I’m very impressed.”

“All I Can say is it’s a miracle,” White said. “To live everyday with no pain is an absolute miracle.”

Even after moving a little farther away, White still uses the cemetery to walk daily. Her and her husband leave for Europe in a few days to walk some more.