It only took a moment and 20-year old Pepperdine volleyball star Parker Kalmbach went from a healthy athlete with Olympic dreams to being nearly crippled with constant pain. During a game, the Newport Beach, Calif native went for a shot but landed in an awkward position with searing pain shooting though his back.
"I felt something slip in my lower back and knew something was wrong," said Kalmbach. "I kept playing thinking it was just a strain but over the course of a few weeks, the pain really got worse. It just kept intensifying, eventually leaving me barely able to lift my leg and it was even hard to walk. Not only did I see my dreams for competing for a spot on the USA Olympic Volleyball team dashed in a split second, but I lived in constant pain with the simplest of tasks becoming difficult."
Parker had a bone spur in his lower back complicated by a stress fracture. After consulting multiple doctors, he was referred by a trusted coach to board-certified spine surgeon Hooman Melamed, M.D. of Marina Del Rey, whose patients include some of the world's top athletes, who turn to him as he is one of only a few specialists in the nation performing the minimally invasive procedure he needed to regain his life.
Up until that point, Parker turned to several conservative treatment options including a back brace to stabilize the injury, physical rehab and injection therapy before opting for Melamed's revolutionary approach using minimally invasive surgery.
“I felt the doctors I was seeing didn't fully understand my x-ray and a lot of it was a waste of my time. Dr. Melamed understood that my first priority was getting rid of the pain and bringing me back to training and competing,” said Kalmbach. “I knew he had extensive experience working with professional athletes so I knew I was in the best hands.”
“It is important for surgeons to recognize that athletes have a strong desire to get back into the game -- not simply to feel better -- so you must take an exceptional amount of time with them,” said Melamed. “Making a thorough and accurate diagnosis takes a lot of time and I give that to each of my patients to ensure that they get back to doing what they love quicker and pain free."
Kalmbach underwent a minimally invasive surgery that involved making a small quarter-sized incision in his lower back, navigating microscopic tools around tissue and bone to the injured area, removing bone fragments and clearing the area of any scar tissue build-up. It was performed as an outpatient procedure and Kalmbach was able to stand up and go home the same day.
“I woke up without the pain I had been experiencing for so long,” Kalmbach said. “I was careful through my recovery and did what Dr. Melamed and my trainers recommended. Within months I was able to get back in the game and am currently about to start my senior year at Pepperdine. I’m back on the court -- training, playing and doing what I love.”
Melamed practices at Disc Sports and Spine Center, 13160 Mindanao Way, Suite 300, Marina del Rey, CA 90292. For more information, call (310) 574-0405 or visit www.thespinepro.com.