One year after surgery, Texas Health Dallas spine patient still grateful for ‘new’ back

For more than 40 years, Joe Bellows has owned a tow-truck business. Sometimes working 20-hour days involving heavy lifting, the constant wear and tear on his body caused Bellows to develop four bulging discs along his lower spine.

“I’m always on the go — moving 18-wheelers, heavy equipment like forklifts — you name it, I move it,” said Bellows.

But after receiving treatment from William Hotchkiss, M.D. an orthopedic surgeon on the Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas medical staff, Bellows is grateful for his improved quality of life.

Before his surgery, Joe Bellows says he had to sit every 50 feet and take a break at work.

Joe Bellows and William Hotchkiss, M.D.

At age 67, Bellows has lived with back pain for several years both from job-related injuries and a serious motorcycle accident.

Ultimately, Bellows realized he couldn’t keep going with back pain taking a serious toll on his body, even affecting his job performance. And he’s not alone. Back pain happens to be the most common cause of job-related disability and the second most common neurological ailment in the United States (headaches rank No. 1), according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.

“Every 50 feet, I had to sit and take a break at work,” Bellows said. “I even used a walker to get to the hospital before my surgery.

That was last January, when he met Hotchkiss.

Bellows told Hotchkiss he was ready for a fusion, but the surgeon’s response left a memorable impression, full of optimism.

“I can fix you and put you back the way you were,” Hotchkiss said.

Several physicians across the country, even a surgeon in Germany, were recommending a spinal fusion to rectify his back pain, which is a procedure that removes vertebrae, and bone grafts or metal devices secured by screws are used to strengthen the spine.

Hotchkiss, who specializes in cervical, thoracic and lumbar spine disorders, had another procedure in mind.

Addressing Bellows’ four bulging discs, along with an arthritic cyst, the procedure Hotchkiss performed at Texas Health Dallas helps enlarge the spinal canal to relieve pressure on the spinal cord and nerves. The partial laminectomy and decompression of his lumbar nerve roots addressed his spinal stenosis, which is a narrowing of the spinal column.

“Mr. Bellows’ impressive dedication to getting well and improving his health was a major factor in his recovery,” Hotchkiss said. “I’m happy to be a part of him getting back to a more active life. He’s a hard worker, and he deserves it.”

Since his procedure, Bellows has been walking pain-free, every chance he gets. He even completed a half-marathon last October.

“With my new back, I feel like I can do anything I want to do,” Bellows said.

Texas Health Dallas offers patients a comprehensive range of services and specialists, which includes a team of board-certified neurosurgeons, orthopedic spine surgeons, neurologists, pain specialists and therapists. Patients can receive treatment for all types of back pain, whether it’s from trauma, degenerative disc disease, deformity, or osteoporosis and related stress fractures.

Learn more about Texas Health’s comprehensive back and spine care, treatment options at Texas Health Dallas, or even take an assessment.

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About Texas Health Resources

Texas Health Resources is a faith-based, nonprofit health system that cares for more patients in North Texas than any other provider. With a service area that consists of 16 counties and more than 7 million people, the system is committed to providing quality, coordinated care through its Texas Health Physicians Group and 29 hospital locations under the banners of Texas Health Presbyterian, Texas Health Arlington Memorial, Texas Health Harris Methodist and Texas Health Huguley. Texas Health access points and services, ranging from acute-care hospitals and trauma centers to outpatient facilities and home health and preventive services, provide the full continuum of care for all stages of life. The system has more than 4,100 licensed hospital beds, 6,400 physicians with active staff privileges and more than 26,000 employees. For more information about Texas Health, call 1-877-THR-WELL, or visit  

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