Bedridden for weeks at a time, Dr. Navraj Heran found himself struggling in high school because of the constant pain he experienced in his back.
That experience inevitably inspired him to be a neurosurgeon, now helping patients who have the same symptoms that he suffered from as a young adult.
“I also learned what other people were going through and I realized there was a significant need for it,” he says.
Dr. Heran is a neurosurgeon at False Creek Healthcare Centre, a private multi-disciplinary health care facility. Patients from across Canada and U.S. seek out Dr. Heran’s help with their neck and back pain, numbness, stiffness, or tingling in the arm or leg. Some patients are also unable to function properly due to issues impacting their nervous system, brain or spine.
“Nothing beats having a person come in who has been told that there’s nothing that can be done—often by many practitioners and on many occasions—and making that person better,” says Dr. Heran.
In almost all instances, Dr. Heran is dealing with the most complex issues affecting a patient. Neurosurgery is traditionally the most intensive and technically challenging type of surgery, as it involves the brain, nervous system and spine.
Dr. Heran has performed more than 12,000 surgeries in his career, and has focused on helping people get rid of their back pain for good.
“It’s a big deal because that’s not the expectation we have in general medicine, let alone a spinal practice, that you’re going to take away people’s back pain,” says Dr. Heran.
The most common procedures he performs at False Creek Healthcare Centre are a lumbar discectomy or lumbar laminectomy. These are one to one-and-a-half-hour-long procedures where an incision in the lower back is made to provide access to the underlying bones. With these procedures, Dr. Heran opens up the space, finds the nerve and moves it. If there is a disc that’s protruding, it is partially removed, along with the ligaments and bone spurs, giving more room for nerves to pass through. Patients who undergo these surgeries report a 70 per cent or more reduction in pain in most cases, often becoming pain-free so they can get back to their daily activities. In more extreme cases, patients can begin to walk again.
If possible, Dr. Heran also advises patients to consider state-of-the-art devices which have significantly increased recovery times, and are more stable to insert into the body.
The first step in seeing Dr. Heran is a consult, which can be accessed in a week or two.
“The symptoms don’t have to be severe and many patients seek me out for peace of mind,” says Dr. Heran. “I’ve seen patients who are teenagers, all the way to 90-year-olds, and they’re all looking for answers to get rid of their pain.”
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