March 22, 2011

"I felt like I had my life back"

Shana Higginbotham and her family are very active. They enjoy hunting, sports and other outdoors recreation.

 So when the pain hit "it just interrupted everything."

"My life changed," Higginbotham said. "I used to walk fast and be ahead of others. Now I struggle to do simple things like go grocery shopping or climb stairs."

 She couldn't play with her kids, had to quit work and was missing classes she was taking for a degree.

 Higginbotham had a non-malignant tumor removed in the summer of 2010. But that didn't stop the pain. In fact, the tumor had damaged the femoral nerve, the one leading into the upper leg.

 "I tried medications," Higginbotham said. "Medication helped some, but it didn't take all the pain away, plus I wanted something besides medication."

 That's when she began seeing Dr. Matthew Ranson who specializes in surgical pain management and sees patients at the CAMC Teays Valley Hospital Pain Relief Center.

 "Nerve injuries can result in permanent disability," Dr. Ranson said. "They are pretty common."

 A treatment that often works in cases such as Higginbotham's is neurostimulation. This therapy may reduce pain to a manageable level so you may return to a more normal lifestyle.  

"It's an old treatment, with a lot of recent technological advances," Dr. Ranson said. "The equipment is getting smaller and the batteries last a lot longer." Dr. Ranson received his medical degree from the West Virginia University School of Medicine. He completed an anesthesiology residency at The Ohio State University and a fellowship in interventional pain management at Duke University. Dr. Ranson is board certified by the American Board of Anesthesiology.

 Neurostimulation involves a small generator, similar to a pacemaker and leads (thin wires). The implanted system intercepts pain signals (before they reach the brain) and replaces them with a different feeling. Some people describe this feeling as a gentle massaging sensation or, in some cases, simply the absence of pain.

Only a doctor with specialized training in pain management specialist can determine if you are a candidate for neurostimulation. Be sure to make sure the doctor treating you is board certified by the American Board of Anesthesia or the American Academy of Pain Management.

The first step is to try neurostimulation on a temporary basis. If this evaluation is successful, a permanent system is surgically implanted.

Higginbotham said her walk improved immediately and she's been able to return to some normalcy in her life.

"I felt like I had my life back," Higginbotham said following the neurostimulation trial period. Dr. Ranson has since implanted the permanent system in Higginbotham's back.

 While the doctor programs the system, the patient can make some minor adjustments to the stimulation.

 "This is a viable alternative to major open surgical procedures," Dr. Ranson said. "It's one of the most researched modalities for treating pain. It's the gold standard and has a 75% to 95% success rate depending on the patient and the illness or injury."

 "This was a last resort for me," Higginbotham said. "It's working for me. Now I just want to reduce the amount of medicine I'm taking and hope to get off all medication."

 About the CAMC Teays Valley Hospital Pain Relief Center

Patients are evaluated and given individualized care that includes treatment goals that take their functional limitations into account. The Pain Relief Center offers a complete array of interventional pain procedures and rehabilitative treatments. The Pain Relief Center is dedicated to diagnosing and treating chronic and acute pain through various modalities including CT, MRI, EMG, lab studies, physical therapy, aquatic therapy, X-rays, spinal cord stimulators, X-ray guided therapeutic injections and radiofrequency nerve ablations. Dr Ranson and his partners specialize in advanced surgical modalities of interventional pain management including minimally invasive laminectomy and decompressions, posterior spinal fusions and new emerging devices to treat spinal stenosis.

 The center offers a complete array of interventional pain procedures and rehabilitative treatments for all chronic pain and spinal diseases including the following:


·Complete medical, surgical, and therapy evaluation by one of our board-certified doctors

·Musculoskeletal evaluations, disability and future medical need assessments, and impairment ratings

·Independent medical evaluations and workers' compensation evaluations

·MRIs, X-rays, and laboratory studies

·Electromyograms (EMG) and nerve conduction studies (NCS)

 Outpatient procedures

·Cervical, thoracic, and lumbar discograms

·X-ray guided and EMG-guided diagnostic and therapeutic injections, including the following:

o   Epidural steroid injections (cervical, thoracic, lumbar, and caudal)

o   Selective nerve root injections (cervical, lumbar, thoracic, and sacral)

o   Facet joint and medial branch nerve blocks

o   Sacroiliac and other major joint injections

o   Local anesthetic sympathetic nerve blocks (stellate, lumbar, and celiac)

o   Celiac plexus alcohol ablation

o   Various diagnostic and therapeutic peripheral nerve blocks

o   Trigger point injections

·Spinal surgery

o   Percutaneous lumbar and cervical disc decompression

·Radiofrequency nerve ablation

·Botox for spasticity, headaches, and other pain disorders

·Spinal cord stimulator implants - to treat spinal, radicular (arm or leg), or peripheral pain caused by complex regional pain syndrome, peripheral vascular disease, phantom limb disorders, or other conditions

 For more information about neurostimulation and other pain management treatments, call the CAMC Teays Valley Hospital Pain Relief Center at (304) 757-5420.

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