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Naperville man enjoys pain-free life after back surgery to help sciatica

By Endeavor Health

“Sciatic nerve pain is not something anyone wants to live with,” Tony Biondo, 56, of Naperville said. It took one final run for Biondo to realize he could no longer let it impact his quality of life. 

Suffering from sciatic nerve pain from his back and down his spine, he vividly remembers calling his 16-year-old daughter for help.

“I reached my tipping point when I had to call my daughter to ask her to pick me up while I was out on a run,” he said. “I knew I had to get it fixed.”

Biondo had an upcoming appointment with family medicine physician Nicholas Love, MD. He told Dr. Love about his sciatic nerve pain. Dr. Love recommended he schedule an appointment with pain specialist David K. Peng, MD.

Tony Biondo

Dr. Peng gave Biondo a shot in his back to help relieve some of the pressure, but the relief was only temporary.

“I had the shot on a Thursday, felt great on Friday, but the pain returned on Saturday,” he said. “It was discouraging, but based on the amount of pain I was in, I knew I needed something more,” he added.

Dr. Peng suggested Biondo see someone to discuss surgery. From there, he met orthopedic surgeon Jimmy Zhu, MD. The results of his MRI showed he had both severe spinal compression and instability.

“When the physicians saw the MRI; it was obvious there had been an issue for quite some time. I didn’t know how it could be fixed without surgery,” he explained.

Using metal implants, Dr. Zhu performed a spinal fusion surgery to restore Biondo’s original body structure and relieve the pressure on his nerves, ultimately helping to relieve his pain.

“We came to the diagnosis pretty quickly in the clinic,” Dr. Zhu said. “After Tony tried all the nonoperative options, it was a matter of time before surgery. Spine surgery has evolved a lot over the years to guarantee quick recovery. I wanted Tony to get back to his active lifestyle as quickly as possible,” Dr. Zhu added.

Biondo felt comfortable and confident that surgery was his best option. Dr. Zhu eased any concerns he had.

“Dr. Zhu provided me with a sense of comfort throughout the entire process. He was confident and reassuring,” he said. “Right before I went into surgery, he told me I wasn’t coming out until he was satisfied,” he added.

After a few hours, his surgery was complete. Biondo was given the advice to move as much as he could – advice he took to heart. Within a week of his spinal fusion, he was walking a mile. One month later, he recalls living a life that was nearly pain free.

“I sent Dr. Zhu a message on MyChart one evening because I had some nerve pain in my arm. I didn’t expect to hear from him since it was so late, but he called me later that night. It was pretty cool to have a doctor willing to check in on you that late,” he added.

Just three short months after surgery, Biondo set his sights on another goal – skydiving.

“Dr. Zhu said I might need to wait a little bit longer for that,” he said, “but I was feeling great.”

In addition to his family, staying active continues to be his number one priority.

“As I get older, I don’t want to be a burden,” Biondo said. “Had I known help was available and I’d receive great care, I wouldn’t have fought the pain for so long. I’m so glad I did it,” he said.

Our team of experts uses innovative, minimally invasive techniques for joint replacement, complex spine surgeries, sports medicine and more, so you can get back to the activities you enjoy sooner. Learn more.

NorthShore University HealthSystem, Swedish Hospital, Northwest Community Healthcare and Edward-Elmhurst Health are now united under one name, Endeavor Health. We’re setting a new standard for healthcare that’s focused on you, because your best health is our endeavor. Learn more.