Surgery Gives Professional Actor Freedom from Decades of Pain
With a career spanning more than 50 years, actor and singer Frank Scafuri has an extensive resume that includes appearances in TV, film, radio, theater and opera.
Although Frank has stayed active throughout his vibrant career, he was plagued with neck pain and a lack of mobility caused by an injury in a swimming pool more than 30 years ago.
“I was always in great shape,” says Frank. “However, I couldn’t drive well because the injury prevented me from turning my head, and it definitely interfered with my acting and singing.”
Over the years, Frank sought a diagnosis from several doctors and was told that he suffered only a slight case of stenosis and a bulging disc in his lower spine. He tried a variety of treatments, including acupuncture and medication, but he found little relief. As the years passed and the pain continued, Frank wondered if his case was simply not treatable.
Frustrated and in pain, Frank took a chance in early 2013 by calling a neurologist who conducted a variety of tests, including an MRI, which revealed that he was suffering from compressed nerves in his neck. Surgery was needed to widen the spaces between the vertebrae.
“My neurologist told me that the only doctor he would trust to do the surgery was Dr. Mitchell Levine, Director of Spine Surgery within the Department of Neurosurgery at Lenox Hill Hospital,” recalls Frank. “He backed up his recommendation by stating that if he himself needed this type of operation, Dr. Levine would be the only one he’d consider.”
Frank promptly made an appointment with Dr. Levine who confirmed that surgery would be the best option for correcting his previously misdiagnosed condition. Because Frank had previously been diagnosed with a slight heart arrhythmia, he was first told to consult with his cardiologist. After two ablations to correct his heart rhythm problem, he was given the go-ahead for the neck surgery.
In March 2013, Frank underwent spine surgery and began feeling noticeably better while still in a hospital bed in recovery.
“Life has changed for the better,” says Frank. “When you’re not well, everything seems wrong. I now swim two or three times a week, and my pain has been greatly reduced. All I can say is thank you to Dr. Levine who confirmed that this wasn’t all in my mind. I now have the freedom to turn my head and drive without fear and that means so much after all that I went through.”