Spinal Surgery was No Obstacle for this Marathon Runner

Steve Caddle, MD Story


In the world, there are 210 people who have completed the six World Marathon Majors. The Majors are the 26.2 mile-long races held in Boston, New York, Berlin, Tokyo, Chicago and London each year. On April 20, 2015, Steve Caddle, MD will join their ranks.

But after his first marathon, he wasn’t even sure there would be a second, much less a sixth.

Steve is a young, athletic pediatrician at Columbia who travels to Haiti every summer to do humanitarian work. So when a friend encouraged him to start running, it didn’t seem so extreme for him to take on the 2011 New York City Marathon. But throughout his training, Steve occasionally noticed tingling in his arm and leg. While it didn’t stop him from running the marathon, it did get worse after the race. Steve sought medical help.

Dr. Michael G. Kaiser, MD with Columbia University Medical Center/New York Presbyterian Hospital made the unsettling diagnosis – a herniated disc and compression of the spinal cord. This would require spinal surgery known as anterior cervical discectomy and fusion (ACDF).

Steve was worried – it was his spinal cord after all. “Anything could go wrong. I had concerns about any potential lasting effects, nerve damage or injury. I was also worried about long-term numbness or pain symptoms.” He had his medical career and humanitarian work to think about – the marathons were gravy.

But Steve was in good hands. In fact, Dr. Kaiser is the Associate Director of The Spine Hospital at the Neurological Institute of New York. As part of this multidisciplinary specialty team that focuses solely on spinal conditions, Dr. Kaiser offered Steve highly specialized care from a surgical team with the highest level of expertise.

Dr. Kaiser, who Steve describes as a “great, amiable guy” explained everything in detail. He would remove the damaged disc and replace it with a bone graft. Screws and a plate would hold the graft in place. Eventually, Steve’s own bone cells would grow through the graft, fusing the vertebrae into one solid piece of bone. This procedure eliminates the tingling and numbness while protecting the spinal cord.

The results were almost surprising they were so good. Steve was able to return home the day following surgery with no pain. He was back at work in two weeks and back to running in two months. His first long run was the Brooklyn half marathon. “My time wasn’t that great but I felt good. I didn’t have the tingling sensation so I was happy.”

Steve pushed on and only seven months after his surgery ran the Berlin marathon. It was then he realized he had already completed two of the six World Majors. He figured he might as well finish them all, so he went on to complete the marathons in Chicago, London, Toronto (not a major), and Tokyo.

On April 20, 2015, Steve will run with the American Red Cross Team in the Boston Marathon. This will mark six out of six World Marathon Majors for him and a victory over spinal disease. He notes that as a physician and humanitarian volunteer, his affiliation with the Red Cross is perfectly aligned with his own mission, and a great way to close out his sixth marathon.

If you would like to support Steve in his efforts to help the American Red Cross on his sixth World Marathon Major, you can visit his site here.

If you would like to learn more about Dr. Michael G. Kaiser, MD, visit his bio page here.

Posted on Apr 2, 2015 by Department Author

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