Hiking Mt. Whitney Post-Surgery A Patient’s Success Story

The Doctor

Dr. Donald G. Hope is one of the most experienced spinal surgeons in the Northern Virginia region. He has devoted years to the study and treatment of neurosurgical conditions, specializing in the cervical and lumbar spine.

Dr. Hope’s primary goal is to get patients back to living their life, without pain and limitations. He only recommends surgery once all other reasonable treatments have been exhausted. Dr. Hope is renowned for providing meaningful advice and prudent solutions for those suffering from back pain.

The Patient


Tim Winter, an avid golfer, developed a disc herniation while training to climb Mt. Rainier in 2017. Tim was not a serious, experienced mountain climber; it’s something he does occasionally for charity.

Tim’s Mt. Rainier climb was for the Whole Hearted Foundation, in Washington, DC. It is a not-for-profit that provides short-term assistance that makes a long-term impact for “heart families” whose child/children receive cardiac care at Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, DC.

Severe Back Pain

Up until the day of his Seattle flight to climb Mt. Rainier, Tim had never experienced problems with his back and although he was experiencing some significant back pain, Tim was still able to join his team on the  climb of Mt. Rainier.

When the pain increased post-climb, Tim visited a sports doctor where his pain was initially misdiagnosed as Piriformis Syndrome. He received two injections into his glutes, but they brought no pain relief. Tim was laid out on his living room floor, unable to work, for six weeks.

At this point, Tim visited a pain management specialist who ordered MRIs and then recommended surgery upon reviewing the results.

Having never had surgery of any kind, Tim sought recommendations from friends. Everyone he spoke to agreed that Dr. Hope was the guy to see.

Impressed with Dr. Hope’s great reputation, Tim felt even better after meeting him.

“Dr. Hope’s personality stood out. He was personable and down to earth,” Tim said during our interview. “He was straightforward on what to expect. He puts you at ease throughout the process. You just know that he’s going to take great care of you.”

Disc Herniation Diagnosis and Surgery

Tim met with Dr. Hope and surgery was scheduled for 3 weeks later. Dr. Hope explained that the pressure within Tim’s spine had shifted. Instead having equilibrium, the pressure pushed the disc backwards. Imagine a jelly donut; if you squeeze the front, the jelly is pushed out the back. This is what occurs in a disc when the pressure changes.

Tim was impressed that he was able to schedule an office visit and coordinate his surgery so quickly. There was some normal post-surgical pain at first, but within two weeks, the pain had returned due to a rare, repeat herniation.

While most patients no longer have problems after receiving treatment, about 5% of all herniated disc patients will develop another herniation on the same disc later.

Tim had a second surgery about 4 weeks after the initial one. He healed quickly and was back to normal activities. He has returned to mountain climbing with no back pain.

Climbing Mt. Whitney Post Surgery


In 2019, Tim was able to summit Mount Whitney in support of the Paradigm Foundation which builds homes and hope for families living in extreme poverty in the Dominican Republic and Kenya. He credits his Christian faith and Dr. Hope with getting him through his disc herniation and getting him back to his normal life.

More On Disc Herniation

Tim’s lower back pain was caused by a compression of the spinal nerves, caused by a herniated disc.

 In general, this type of pain can last much longer than a simple strain. This back pain may feel either like a low, dull ache, or a sharp, stabbing pain. It may radiate down your back and into your buttocks and legs. It may even cause tingling and numbness in them. For more information read





Dr. Donald Hope