Patient Stories

New Zealand Nurse Avoids Spine Fusion Thanks to German Spine Specialists (Robyn’s Story)


Robyn is a former ICU Nurse based in Port Nelson, New Zealand. She contacted us in June 2015 for a third opinion regarding her debilitating spine condition.

As an experienced medical professional (ICU Nurse) she had previously sought out the medical opinion of two of New Zealand’s top spinal surgeons, who both recommended her for a spinal fusion.

Having researched the likelihood of reduced mobility and increased chance for future “adjacent segment disease” following traditional spine fusion, she wanted to be assessed by our German Spine Specialists for Artificial Disc Replacement (ADR).

She was accepted as a good candidate for this surgery, and less than three weeks later she was departing for Dusseldorf (Germany), for her July 28 surgery with Dr. Thomas Bierstedt.

On the day after surgery, Robin was walking around the hospital. ONZ Patient Coordinator Malte Petersen caught up with her just 10 days after her surgery to hear more about her experience.

Update: 12 Weeks Post-Op

Robyn sent us the following email on her recovery, and some quite remarkable video footage…

Robyn: I rode again today by myself this time in the forest for about 1.5 hours in the saddle. The only adjustment I think I might made is to use a sheepskin in my saddle just because there feels like a tiny bit of pressure. Mostly it’s just me feeling nervous as the lumbar sacral replacement disc is so close to my jumping saddle which isn’t that soft – I’m not riding as hard as I used to. I am taking it easy for me which means not a lot of deep sitting int he saddle and hard legs on at a canter. It’s only my second day back riding.

This morning I also did 35 minutes fast walking on the treatmill with 12-20% incline and then also include planking in my routine. I am up to 1 minute planking and 30 sec on each side plank. This is very tough for me. When I started three weeks ago I could only do 10 seconds each plank.

I am totally off anti-inflammatory and pain meds resulting from the surgery.

Gardening is a part of most days on my farm. As well as riding and exercising today I have moved the lawn on our ride on mover. This was hard to do when I first got back home. I would need support behind me on the seat as I really am too short for the mover and have to sit up very straight to reach the pedals!

Thank you so much for everything. This was the best decision I could have made. I am now supporting other patients who are considering having this surgery.

Update: 7 Months Post-Op

Robyn sent us another update on her progress…

Robyn: Just to let you know I am doing really well at 7 months post ADR. I have bought an additional horse about 3 weeks ago. I have started back jumping and am starting to prepare for the coming Hunt Season. I only get significant pain after about 3 hours in the saddle or really tough dressage lessons. Last week I went on a big horse trek which included five days riding in the high country of New Zealand to the most remote station in New Zealand.

Last night someone was asking me if I am fixed. I can categorically say yes.

Once again If there is ever anyone who needs to speak with me regarding the success of the operation. I am always happy to speak with them.

Kind Regards,



July 2016 marks 12 months since Robyn’s Artificial Disc Replacement in Germany

Robyn: This weekend was the celebration of one year since my operation. It was the most amazing day. Jumping spars and hunting with a field of 77 riders. My back is amazing. I’ve included two pictures from yesterday.

One year later I am so thankful I decided not to have a fusion and went to Germany for my spinal disc replacement. I am back riding almost as well as before I injured my back.

Thanks Robyn (just giving you an update)

Update: 2 Years 3 Months Post-Op

Robyn: I just had my third ride on my new horse I have bought two weeks ago, so the jumps are really little. When I jump, for safety’s sake I wear an air vest which inflates if I fall off. I have fallen off at least 10 times since my surgery. Fingers crossed I am fine. The disc is tough and durable and believe me I put it to use. I do try really hard not to fall off but sometimes it happens. I wear the air vest since having had the surgery and trying to be safe.

2 ¼ years later my back is better than ever. I continue to get stronger. Six months ago I added a personal trainer at the gym to my mix of horse riding and Pilates. I go twice a week unless riding gets in the way.

This week for example. I had Personal training on Monday, a jumping lesson today for 45 minutes, Tomorrow I will ride and maybe jump, Thursday is Personal trainer and Pilates and Friday as I am trying to get used to this horse quickly I will have another lesson. I will also ride and jump on the weekend. With all this I also fit farm jobs and a large garden into my weekly schedule.

I am fitter and stronger than I have been in a long time. I rarely have any back pain. Sometimes I take some Voltaren and or Panadeine but it’s usually related to exercise. If I ride in a car for hours or drive my big horse truck long distances, I still get quite a bit of abdominal core pain but it’s not the disc but the surrounding tissue that gets very tired. ONZ did warn me about driving and this is one of the remaining areas where I do have trouble. Funnily enough it’s my husband’s sports car that is hard to ride in as the racing seats are very firm. The soft squishy Land Cruiser is much easier on my back.

I am so glad I choose to go to Germany. ONZ was a great choice. I happily continue to refer people or provide support for clients that are interested in Spinal surgery.

Kind Regards,



Supportive Patient References

Robyn has generously made herself available to talk with any new Spine Connection patients who’ve been recommended spine surgery in Germany.

We have new happy patients returning from Germany every week, and many are happy to give some of their time as a “reference” to speak with new patients. We aim to put new patients in touch with someone around the same age, with a similar lifestyle, who’s already had the same surgery that’s been recommended for them.

Have you received a diagnosis or been recommended for spinal surgery?

Contact us today with any questions, and our team are happy to assist you. We are experts at coordinating every little detail of the assessment process and entire medical journey from start to finish.

*Please read: Every patient is unique and responds to medical treatment differently. Factors influencing outcome from spine treatment and surgery can include overall patient health, underlying medical conditions, degree and duration of existing spine/nerve damage, surgeon experience, technology and surgical techniques used, post-op rehabilitation protocol, and patient diligence in continuing rehab once returning home. We encourage patients to return to a healthy and active lifestyle, and the introduction of new physical activities should be discussed with medical professionals during the recovery phase.
Spine Connection [PR]
Written by Spine Connection [PR]

This content is copyright and property of Spine Connection, the first medical travel organisation for patients with spine damage. Our mission is to provide faster, more affordable and superior spine treatment for patients living anywhere in the world.

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