An Episode of “The Doctors” Changed One Student Athlete’s Life

“There are days where it hurts to get out of bed and I can barely walk.”Christian Novak was a healthy, 16 year-old girl pitching in her high school’s state championship game when she felt a “pop” that brought on a sharp pain in her back. Her love for the sport pushed her to play through the pain, so she finished the game and decided to rest. After a few weeks, the pain had subsided and wouldn’t come back for a full year. When the pain did return, it was constantly there, varying in intensity between bearable and crippling as there were some days she could “barely walk”.

Christian tried multiple treatments including rest, bracing, medication and injections. After visits with multiple doctors who suggested everything from more rest to fusion surgery, it was revealed she had a Pars Defect which is, in essence, a fracture in a part of the vertebrae called the pars interarticularis. Christian’s mother Jayne had spent numerous hours researching the condition online and even came across it on an episode of “The Doctors” which featured Dr. Hooman Melamed as the treating physician.

Encouraged by what she had seen on the show, Jayne reached out to Dr. Melamed and flew Christian out to see him for an exam. During the exam, Dr. Melamed performed a different set of tests and introduced Jayne and Christian to the idea of minimally invasive spinal surgery.

Three months after the surgery, Christian and Jayne sat alongside Dr. Melamed on the very same show that lead them to him. On that episode of “The Doctors” Christian announced she was virtually pain free and Dr. Melamed revealed that Christian was on her way to a full recovery. He cautioned she would have to take it slow and put in a lot of work, but if she followed her rehab and stayed focused on her recovery, she could one day return to playing the sport she loved. An outcome she described as “the best thing that could happen.”

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