At Tennessee Orthopaedic Alliance, our number one priority is our patients. We all take great pride in hearing that our patients are happy with the care we provide. Discover what our patients have to say regarding their office visit, surgical experience or recovery process.


J. Lewis

I want to thank you for everything. It's nice when physicians like you show an interest and go the extra mile. You did just that, and our entire family appreciates you.

- J. Lewis



At 82 years old, Anne had a dream to go on an African safari with her daughter. Unfortunately, the only obstacle between Anne and her dream vacation was a big one—she needed a total knee replacement in both knees.

Determined to realize her goal, Anne was scheduled for a bilateral total knee arthroplasty on Oct. 3 with Dr. Philip Karpos. Less than four months later, she was on her way with her daughter for a four-week tour of Kenya and South Africa.

On the trip, Anne was able to climb in and out of many safari jeeps with ease, dance with the locals and even climb on the back of an elephant.

It's hard to believe when you look at photos from what Anne calls "the trip of a lifetime," that just four months earlier she had a difficult time getting around due to her weak and painful knees.

"If it weren't for TOA's expert treatment, I would have missed out on a very special experience. I owe a very big thanks to Dr. Karpos and his team for making this trip possible."

- Anne

Theresa Mckee

I Can Climb Mount Everest

If you spend five minutes with Theresa McKee you might describe her as a “firecracker.” This Murfreesboro native loves life, her family, and is constantly running around town volunteering her time with the Exchange Club and doing good for others. Most days you can find her in the backyard, chasing her four grandchildren, bird watching from her patio, working in her vegetable garden, or telling stories. Her vivacious spirit is contagious, and her warm smile stays ever-present on her face. At first glance, you would not know that this vibrant and confident grandmother once suffered from paralyzing back pain.

Before Theresa’s experience with TOA, living the farm life she was familiar with had become impossible. Raised on the same land where she lives today, Theresa is a born hard worker, but lower back pain prevented her from doing what she enjoyed so much. “You have to bend over to work in a garden, but I couldn’t do it.”

As her pain grew worse over the course of a year, Theresa says she could not even walk the short distance from her house to her garage. Her eyes sunk in and she lost weight. All she could do was lie on her back. “I felt like I just wasn’t here. I thought is this how I’m going to have to live?’”

The excruciating pain eventually forced Theresa to retire after 26 years with the same company, and distanced her from her adored grandchildren. “I couldn’t do anything with my grandkids. I didn’t even want to get out of the house.” She visited a pain center where she was administered epidurals every two weeks, but it wasn’t a cure. With her life so limited and pain so persistent, Theresa thought she wanted to die. Desperate for effective relief, she took a friend’s advice and turned to Tennessee Orthopedic Alliance.

Dr. Shibayama of TOA effectively fused Theresa’s L3 and L4 lumbar vertebrae. The results changed her life. “To be honest with you, I felt wonderful from the time I left the hospital and I still feel great,” she says. “I was at my wit’s end before seeing Dr. Shibayama. I just wanted to die. He told me we had to do something. It was my last hope. He took really good care of me, and I haven’t stopped moving since.”

Theresa McKee’s surgery allowed her to reclaim her life. Finally, she can work in her garden and play with her grandkids. “Before, I couldn’t do anything with my grandkids. Now, I’m out here chasing them, going to ball games, and jumping up and cheering for them in the stands.”

She rides jet skis from time to time, and even plans to go horseback riding. “I’m great now. I just do whatever I want to do! Look at me. I’m 57 and I’m on top of the world.”

More than anything, Theresa wants others to know that there is hope out there, that there is a life beyond suffering. Crippling pain once robbed her of her life, but now she can do whatever she wishes. “I had no life before. And now, it’s like I can climb Mount Everest.”

- Theresa McKee

Phil Landers

Beginning a New Adventure, Pain Free

Former pharmaceutical sales executive and father of two, Phil Landers is looking forward to the next chapter of his life. As his youngest of two sons prepares to leave the nest to join his brother at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, Phil yearns for adventures with his wife of more than twenty-five years. But before his success with Tennessee Orthopedic Alliance, experiencing these new endeavors would have been impossible.

One morning, Phil woke up with piercing neck and shoulder pain. “I slept fine one night, then woke up the next day and nearly passed out as soon as my feet hit the floor. The pain was excruciating.”

As someone who had experienced orthopedic surgery before, Phil knew what severe pain felt like, but this time was different.

“When nerve pain is involved, it takes pain to its highest level. I could not comfortably sit, stand, or lay down to get any level of relief. The pain was simply unbearable.” Searching for comfort, he underwent two nerve root block procedures with a highly regarded pain specialist, but neither treatment could alleviate his discomfort.

With constant pain still pressing upon him, Phil turned to Tennessee Orthopedic Alliance’s Dr. Gray Stahlman, who performed a cervical radiculopathy procedure. Remarkably, the minute the surgery was complete, Phil was entirely free from pain. “I wasn’t just pain-free in the surgical center overnight. I never experienced one moment of pain at any time following the procedure.”

The success of Phil’s surgery far exceeded his expectations. After previous failed attempts to alleviate his suffering, he never dreamed to be healed so completely. Because of his successful operation, Phil says, “I was literally able to regain my life.”

Phil describes his experience with TOA as “totally awesome” and recommends Dr. Stahlman to family and friends. He says, “There is absolutely nothing that I can imagine that would have made the experience any better. Due to my positive experience in the past, I recently saw Dr. Stahlman for another back issue, and under his care, the problem was resolved within a week. I would not consider any other orthopedic practice or any physician than Gray Stahlman should I receive care in the future.”

- Phil Landers

The Ruckers

Mother and Daughter Share Success of Spinal Fusion Surgery

Shannon Rucker Prince, a physical therapist tech from Murfreesboro, loves being newly married. You can see it in her pretty smile.

It was just a short time ago, however, that she was living in pain all of the time. “During my last semester at MTSU, I was thrown against a fence by a cow and injured my back. I found no relief from pain medications or physical therapy. It was a difficult time. I was depressed and losing weight. I couldn’t sleep lying down because it caused severe headaches. I had to sleep in a recliner and with very little sleep, was tired and angry all of the time. It was not a good time in my life, especially for a 24-year-old.”

This is when Shannon turned to Tennessee Orthopaedic Alliance’s Dr. Juris Shibayama in Murfreesboro for help. “We looked at many options to help reduce my pain, and decided that spinal fusion surgery would be the best solution. Within a week of the surgery, I had significantly reduced the amount of pain medicine usually needed and began to walk without any pain.

My energy came back, food was tasty, and I wanted to eat again. Today, I am more active than I used to be and have no pain! In April, I married my best friend, Adam. My life is back!”

Shannon says her experience was “phenomenal” and believes Dr. Shibayama contributed to the success. “My spinal surgeon listened to me, and tried everything he could before even suggesting surgery. But when nothing else worked, he went ahead with the surgery, and I am so grateful for the result. It was so important to have a surgeon who cared about me, and worked with me to find a solution to my back issues.”

Sue Rucker understands her daughter’s pain. She’s been living with back pain for awhile. “I somehow managed to blow out 3 discs in my back over the years,” said the retired psychiatric nurse. “I had the telltale pain running down the back of the leg constantly, I could never find a good position to reduce pain, and medications never helped. I had 3 back surgeries over the years, but couldn’t find relief from back pain agony.”

This is when Sue decided to try a new doctor.

“I chose to see Dr. Shibayama after seeing the great success Shannon was having from her spinal fusion.
I explained to him that I needed to find comfort, and that I was retired and could take the time needed to heal from potential procedures or surgeries. I also knew that because of the damage to my back over the years, any surgery wasn’t going to be quite as simple as Shannon’s surgery. I was amazed when Dr. Shibayama suggested the same spinal fusion that Shannon had. It was like a mother and daughter miracle!”

Sue says she realizes how unusual it is for both a mother and daughter to have the same surgery for the same back problem, especially since they were damaged differently. But today, she is grateful for the coincidence and the result.

Success came for Sue. “After surgery, it was like the difference between night and day. I remember Dr. Shibayama coming in my room the day after my surgery and asking me if there was anything I needed.
I told him yes, please take out the tubes and wires as soon as possible and let me get on my feet. I wanted to walk. He readily agreed and I did so that day. It was the first time I walked without leg pain in a long time and I enjoyed it. Shannon took good care of me, much like I tended to her after her procedure. She drove me to the local mall where I walked inside when the weather was bad, and she made every lap I did.”

Today, Sue is feeling no pain and is able to everything she wants to do. “I am almost 65-years-old, and that brings limitations, but I am now putting out a vegetable garden every year and working with flowers. I am able to walk as much as I want. More importantly, I was able to ride comfortably in a car all the way to Alabama for the birth of my first grandchild, as well as participate in my daughter’s recent wedding.To be free of pain is truly a blessing.”

- Shannon Rucker Prince