From spine surgery to NYC Marathon: Hospital for Special Surgery helps woman get back on her feet

NEW YORK (WABC) -- Not long ago, Ruth Torres could barely walk, now she's ready to run the 2021 TCS New York City Marathon.

"Knowing that my body is allowing me to do that, I have a lot of gratitude," Torres said.

Doctors discovered that Torres was suffering from lumbar spinal stenosis, an arthritic buildup in her lower back.

"While that is a very common problem we see, what made Ruth's case particularly unique was that her goal was to get back to running and so we needed to do something that would not only allow us to correct her problem but give her the longevity and the ability to run the distances she wanted to run," Hospital for Special Surgery's Dr. Sheeraz Qureshi said.

In 2018, Dr. Qureshi performed minimally invasive surgery to relieve the compression on Torres' nerves and restore stability.

"We made a small opening on the side of her spine. We used image guidance during surgery that allowed us to be able to see in three dimensions, Ruth's spine, without having to make big incisions and dissecting muscles. We then placed a spacer and screws to provide stability for her spine," Dr. Qureshi said.

Recovery from surgery was a slow and painful process for Torres.

It took months, but she finally managed to start running again.

In 2020, Torres completed her first full marathon, albeit, virtually, due to the coronavirus pandemic.

It was the initial step of an ambitious lifelong goal.

"I made a decision that I'm going to run the New York City Marathon every year until I can't run anymore," Torres said.

On Sunday, Torres will run her first marathon alongside tens of thousands of competitors.

"I am excited and scared. I feel that my training is going to get me to the finish line. My back is definitely not going to prevent me from running. My back is A-Okay," Torres said.

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