At age 55, Brett Raven was experiencing chronic pain due to degenerating herniated disks causing vertebrae to rub against each other pinching nerves. Brett had decompression surgery in 1990, also called a “laminectomy,” to enlarge his spinal canal to relieve pressure on the spinal cord and surrounding nerves. Part of a protruding disk in the L4-5 lumbar region was removed giving relief for about a year. However, as he said, over time, additional disk degeneration caused the pain to return. Brett had an MRI and his new orthopaedic surgeon, Christian N. Athanassious, M.D. with Santa Rosa Orthopedics, recommended that spacers be inserted between his deteriorating disks and that pins and screws be used to fuse the three vertebrae and realign the spine. On February 4, 2015 Brett had the surgery and a couple of weeks later was comfortable enough to walk two to three miles a day. His pain level had been dramatically reduced. Today Brett goes on hikes, lifts weights, is back driving a tractor and working in the vineyard tending 15,000 vines producing Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Merlot and Pinot Noir varietal wines under the “FrostWatch” label. “I hope to get back on my bicycle in a few more months to help me keep up with my wife and kids, ages 14, 15 and 18. “Every week I feel a little bit better.”


Through the years I had always led an active lifestyle, but over the course of time I injured my back, sometimes by moving heavy objects, as well as several times while playing basketball. I’m six foot, eight inches tall and played high school and college ball. Moreover, the extensive
physical work involved in planting our 15-acre Bennett Valley vineyard and producing 1,500 cases of wine each year, which exacerbated my back problems.

After this first back surgery, over the years the discomfort returned and by 2015 the pain had become quite intense. My back would go out in the L3-4 disk region. The last time it happened was during the grape harvest crush on September 3, 2014. I’m doing pretty much everything I normally did before the surgery and more. My range of motion is as good or better now. I’m able to do more vineyard work. I feel a whole lot better than I did before and more importantly, I feel better each day.

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To learn more about Dr. Athanassious or to make an appointment call: 707 546-1922