Newswise — MAYWOOD, IL –  A neck condition called cervical myelopathy, which compresses the spinal cord, was severely limiting Kenneth Caudle's activity as both a firefighter and a family man.

Mr. Caudle is chief of the Huntley Fire Protection District and the father of an active five-year-old son and three-year-old daughter. He couldn't pull a fire hose, lift an ax or wrestle with his son. He was unable to lift his right arm above his head and felt numbness and tingling in his right hand. His neck hurt and he suffered headaches. When he walked, his right foot drooped.

Cervical myelopathy occurs when the spinal cord in the neck is compressed, disrupting nerve transmissions. It usually is related to arthritic changes in the neck.

To treat the condition, Loyola Medicine spine surgeon G. Alexander Jones, MD, performed a surgery that involved a spinal fusion in the neck. First Dr. Jones removed a vertebra and two bulging discs on the top and bottom of the bone. This took the pressure off the spinal cord. Dr. Jones then replaced the vertebra with a plastic implant that was filled with bone. The device was secured with a plate and four screws. Over time, the bone fused with the vertebrae above and below it, becoming a single, solid bone.

As soon as Mr. Caudle woke up, he could feel the surgery was a success. "I felt my fingertips again," he said. "There was no pain in my shoulder and elbow. I was able to wiggle my toes." Mr. Caudle has returned to a full range of activities at the fire station and at home. "My kids are jumping all over me again," he said.

Dr. Jones said the best part of his job is seeing a patient such as Mr. Caudle come in with a significant disability, undergo a successful surgery, "and recover to the point where he can go back to a normal, healthy, full life."

Dr. Jones performs a full range of simple and complex spine surgeries, including surgeries for tumors of the spinal cord and spinal column. He is board certified in neurosurgery and a Fellow of the American Association of Neurological Surgeons.