Dad from Devon returns to hobbies and career after successful neck surgery

What initially seemed like a minor football injury, resulted in debilitating neck and shoulder pain for single dad and mature student, Jacob Cunningham.

Unable to continue playing football, run, or visit the gym, Jacob found he was constantly tired and feeling at a low ebb. But worst of all, the restrictive pain meant he struggled to look after his nine-year-old daughter in the way he wanted to. “Thank goodness for supportive parents,” he says.

After finishing his degree at the University of Plymouth, Jacob went to work for a local law firm, which gave him the added benefit of private medical insurance. At his request, his GP referred him to the Nuffield Health Plymouth Hospital, where he met Mr Himanshu Sharma, Consultant Orthopaedic Spinal Surgeon.

Investigation showed that Jacob had atypical symptoms, secondary to nerve compression, with shoulder and chest wall pain, rather than the classic shooting pain down the arm. Mr Sharma recommended cervical spine surgery, in the form of anterior cervical discectomy and fusion. But, because the symptoms weren’t typical, there was no guarantee that it would be a success.

But a success it was. And now Jacob is swimming three times a week and rebuilding his sporting calendar.

And, best of all, he’s joined Nuffield Health’s Fitness and Wellbeing Centre in Plymouth where he’s making the most of the facilities, and the expertise of the personal training team who understand what’s required regarding his aftercare, following the operation. “With their support, I’ll be slim again in no time, and back to optimum fitness,” he says, adding that there are also facilities and classes at the gym which are ideal for his daughter, meaning they can go together.

Jacob is fulsome in his praise for the ‘exceptional level of care’ he received from the Nuffield Health Plymouth Hospital. “Everything about the hospital is of a high standard – the consultants, the standard of nursing, the rooms, the food, and the aftercare. I thoroughly recommend them.”

Mr Sharma is delighted with Jacob’s recovery. “His scar has healed beautifully, he’s regained full range of neck movements, and his pre-operative neck pain has significantly improved at the six-month post-operative follow up. All the symptoms secondary to his trapped nerve have settled, and current mild residual symptoms are muscular.

“Our goal was to improve his quality of life and functions, and we’ve done that. I’m pleased that he has joined our gym, where he will get ongoing support, with his rehabilitation, from the specialist personal trainers.”

To read more:
Plymouth Live (February 2020)

Last updated Thursday 21 July 2022

First published on Tuesday 19 July 2022