Aaron Trask couldn't see past the pain.

A persistent back injury had rendered him unable to work, barely able to move, and on a concoction of painkillers.

That was until he met Hawke's Bay-based, Canadian native, Dr Austin Enright, who introduced the most modern generation of disc replacement surgery, already used around the world, to New Zealand.

The surgery uses a new type of spinal disc which mimics how the spine works. The material heats with movement, significantly increasing mobility through the lumbar spine.


Father of one Trask suffered a work-related injury 10 years ago and has been affected by chronic back pain ever since. The pain deteriorated in recent years causing him to have to give up work and, on three occasions, call an ambulance because he couldn't walk.

Trask had "always had a bad back" through falling off motorbikes, but his biggest work-related injury was through lifting empty pallets.

On one occasion, he was lifting more pallets on a job site when he fell into a peg hole, and the pallets came crashing down on him. "I didn't think too much of it and then I found out I had a prolapsed disc and that was hitting my spinal cord. That took basically all mobility out of me."

"I couldn't do anything. I was in absolute agony. I couldn't walk, and I wasn't allowed to work because I was on too much medication."

Trask, who works as a truck driver, took, on average, 42 pills a day in the six months prior to his surgery. He was also on a low dose of anti-depressants, as a direct result of his pain.

"Your days are so long, and your nights are long and it's just not fun."

It isn't the first time Trask has had surgery for his back. But unlike this one, it worked for a "little while" and then when he injured himself again, it got "worse and worse".

"Every day of my life was just a struggle. I couldn't even wind up a fish because the pain was that excruciating on my back that there was just no fun."


Now just over six months after his successful surgery with Dr Enright, Aaron is back moving with more flexibility and ease than he has in 10 years.

He no longer has to take any pain relief, is back at work, and has no trouble lifting and playing with his two-and-a-half-year-old child.

"He's just changed my whole life, to be honest. I just can't even really explain it. I had no life and now I've got it all back." Trask says he has not felt "this good in 20 years".

He says he felt the results "immediately". "There was no pain at all but it was definitely a 36-month procedure of getting back into work." Now, he is back working full-time.

"Sometimes I feel a little bit stiff in the morning but never ever do I have to go to the pill cabinet, it's just totally different."

Ministry of Health figures show back disorders are New Zealand's leading cause of health loss for ages 15-64. About 10 per cent of Kiwis suffer from a back disorder.


Dr Enright, who provides the surgery through the public and the private system says the longevity of the third-generation implant, as opposed to the second generation, is far better.

"The ability of the newer implant to deal with the forces that are put through the lumbar spine that are significant is much greater and so it can more closely mimic what our normal discs in our spine can do."

He has performed more than 20 surgeries over the last 12-16 months. For most of his patients, they had longstanding back or back and leg pain. "After the disc replacements, most of them are saying their pain is gone."

While Trask believes he won't ever be in the same predicament if, for some reason if he is, he knows who to go to. "That Mr Enright is a pretty amazing man."