Valari Lagrone

Millbrook, AL

Conditions + Treatments

Medical Icon Hip Replacement
Medical Icon Hip Resurfacing
Medical Icon Spine Injury/Condition

My name is Valari Lagrone, and I am forever grateful for Andrews Sports Medicine, especially Dr. Jeffrey Davis and Dr. Charles Carnel, for helping to take years of pain away.

I am originally from Nanuet, New York; however, I have lived most of my life in Montgomery, Alabama. My father was originally from Birmingham and desperately wanted to get back South so our family moved from New York to Montgomery when I was 15 years. It was an extremely hard transition, but I quickly grew to love the South and Montgomery.

Ballet has always been a passion of mine. When I was 6 years old my family went into the New York City to watch the New York Ballet Company perform the Nutcracker. I was instantly hooked. The performance was absolutely mesmerizing and when my parents asked me later if I wanted to begin ballet lessons, my answer was an immediate “YES” and I discovered my life’s passion at an early age.

I did ballet all through my youth and teen years and became a trained professional dancer through my 20’s and 30’s. I was formally trained in New York by several notable teachers including the director of The Radio City Music Hall Ballet. In 1972 after I moved to Montgomery, AL and became one of the original dancers for the Alabama Dance Theater and was honored to spend several years as a professional dancer and several years as the principal dancer. Overall, I danced with the Alabama Dance Theater from 1986-1997 and again in 2001-2003.

I spent a brief amount of time as an apprentice at the Indianapolis Ballet Theater. Some of the highlights from my career are having the opportunity to work with the American Ballet Theater in New York and receiving the honor of performing alongside their principal dancer. My favorite ballet piece to have performed, and now watch, was Giselle. I was able to train in New York for this role and then perform it back with the Alabama Dance Theater. My time as a dancer was blessed with many wonderful opportunities that I have always cherished.

When I stopped dancing professionally, I became a ballet teacher for and taught ballet for more than 20 years. I then transitioned to serving as the Ballet Mistress for the Alabama Dance Theater, a role than I still serve to this day.

I first fell into teaching by accident. I had never intended to become a ballet teacher, but when I was 17, I was one of the older dancers and when a teacher was unable to commit, they turned to me to help. In 1989, I joined the faculty of the Baldwin Arts and Academics Magnet School. I helped to develop the program alongside Emily Caruso and we helped to implement it as a nationally-recognized public school ballet program. 

Since then, I have taught many students and have helped them to develop skills beyond just dancing. The skills I have helped these students to develop has seen them go onto professional careers in the field of dance including professional dancers, physical therapist for dancers, nutritionist for athletes, dance studio owners, choreographers, and one is even an artistic director of her own dance company in New York City!

I have loved being able to work with young dancers and help them not just to develop more techniques, but also other skills that they will be able to utilize with any area of life. The arts truly carry value in every sphere of life and teaching it has become my greatest passion. I even joined the dance staff for the Alabama Institute for Education in the Arts.

Every sport takes a toll on the body, and dance is no exception. Being a classical ballet dancer and teacher has caused me severe deterioration of both hips. I have had multiple other surgeries that have a risen over my long career in dance. But, at one point I realized that I had been in chronic pain for 6 years.

This chronic pain began with my hips. I went to a doctor more local to me who informed me that I would need a complete hip replacement. This was the worst news I could have heard. I was not even 50 at the time and the idea of a complete replacement sounded awful. After that appointment, I decided I would just live with the pain. I relied on anti-inflammatories and heating pads for 6 years. My quality of life had gone downhill as the pain only worsened. I became depressed and developed high blood pressure. Eventually it became a struggle to simply stand up and walk.

I had been talking with a friend of mine one day, finally ready to cave and have the surgery done when she started raving about this practice in Birmingham and insisted that I visit them before I fully commit to the surgery in Montgomery. This was when I first heard of Andrews Sports Medicine.

My first experience with Andrews Sports Medicine came and I met with Dr. Jeffery Davis. He performed 2 hip resurfacing surgeries and one total hip replacement on me. Dr. Davis completely turned my life around and I could once again truly enjoy the art of ballet feeling renewed. Dr. Davis and his team at Andrews left a profound impact on my life. I was able to keep teaching classical ballet after those initial surgeries by Dr. Davis.

Fast forward to 2024 (12 years after those initial hip surgeries) I was still continuing my career as Ballet Mistress for the Alabama Dance Theater when I began to have some mild pain along my lumbar area. I met with my general practitioner who diagnosed me with Facet Arthropathy in the Lumbar Spine. I began to follow a regimen of anti-inflammatories, muscle relaxers, heating pads, Voltaren, lidocaine patches, and physical therapy. It made no difference. The pain had been continuing on since January 2024 and was beginning to compromise my ability to walk, as well as being debilitatingly painful. It was making it difficult for me to continue what I love, teaching ballet.

Once I made the decision that I needed an orthopaedic doctor, I knew I wanted to visit a spine specialist at Andrews Sports Medicine based on the wonderful experience and outcome I had with Dr. Davis all those years earlier. When I called and shared my situation with the appointment scheduling department, the scheduler recommended and assisted me in making an appointment with interventional spine specialist, Dr. Charles Carnel.

Prior to my appointment, I researched Dr. Carnel online and was extremely pleased to discover all of the various solutions he offered his patients suffering from back pain. While my current regimen was not working, I did not want to jump straight into spine surgery. I knew there must be a different course of action and Dr. Carnel seemed like the best place to look for a solution to my constant pain and suffering.

On March 7, 2024, I had my appointment with Dr. Carnel. He was just as outstanding as Dr. Davis was years earlier. Dr. Carnel intently listened to my complaints and sympathized with my situation. He helped to work out a solution, both temporary and long term, that would best work for me. I felt very seen as a patient in pain.

Dr. Carnel administered two trigger injections and advised me to see if they would help with physical therapy to actually make a difference. After the injections, I realized that this was the first moment I was not in pain since January 2024. 

Dr. Carnel told me the pain would not be gone for forever but that we could work out a plan that best suited my needs. However, after those injections, I experienced four days of no pain whatsoever. It was what no one else had been able to do. It seemed to me that he had done the impossible of immediately relieving my pain.

As I continue to age gracefully, I know I will continue to struggle with lumbar pain, but I now know I have a wonderful doctor in Dr. Carnel who will be there with me every step of the way and will also let me have a voice in my course of treatment. It takes a massive weight off my shoulders.

Living in the Montgomery, AL area, it can be a long drive to Andrews Sports Medicine in Birmingham. However, the drive is definitely worth the time. Dr. Jeffrey Davis and Dr. Charles Carnel are both extremely professional and knowledgeable while still having the ability to truly sympathize with their patient’s situation. The staff are all so kind and helpful, and everyone in the office is just outstanding.

I cannot say enough good things about Dr. Davis and Dr. Carnel. I admire and respect them so much, not just because of the knowledge that they so evidently carry, but also because of how they treated me as a patient. I feel extremely blessed to be a patient at Andrews. Thank you Dr. Davis and Dr. Carnel for helping me to restore my life and achieve Victory Over Injury!

Treatment Providers
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Charles T. Carnel, MD
Charles T. Carnel, MD View Bio
Dr. Jeffrey Davis
Jeffrey C. Davis, MD View Bio