Because patients are groggy or asleep in the operating room, they do not realize the wear and tear it can take on O.R. nurses. As Cynthia Lane, a certified operating room R.N., moved adult patients into position for over 25 years, it eventually took a toll on her back.
Because of a degenerating back, she underwent spinal fusion, later discovering that the disks above and below the fused disks bare the brunt of force the fused disks relinquished. Five years after the surgery, she began having sciatic pain. She began to put less weight on the affected leg and watched the muscle wither away. One morning, Cynthia awoke to find she was in “horrible pain,” to such an extent she could not walk. For three weeks she got through the suffering with the help of medication. As soon as she was able, she consulted with her neurosurgeon and began physical therapy, which “never helped.” After two years, Cynthia was advised to see a physician specializing in Pain Management.
From her work at Holy Cross Hospital, Cynthia was familiar with Dr. Marcos Szeinfeld and his reputation in the medical community. When she asked her Internist to recommend a doctor, she was not surprised when he mentioned Dr. Szeinfeld, stating Dr. Szeinfeld was his own choice for his personal treatment.
From her very first visit, Cynthia felt confident in Dr. Szeinfeld’s ability to help her regain comfort and mobility. Knowing Dr. Szeinfeld would take the most conservative path possible to restore comfort, Cynthia immediately began to experience some comfort with each treatment. “He discussed the different options with me, which I was fairly familiar with from being a nurse,” states Cynthia. “Each treatment would provide some relief, but the pain would eventually return and we would try something different.”
Since conservative treatment was not providing long-term results, Dr. Szeinfeld began to discuss other options with Cynthia. With excellent experience in treating patients by using Spinal Cord Stimulation, he explained the safe and effective treatment for chronic pain of the back, legs and arms. The nature of Cynthia’s back pain indicated she was an excellent candidate and Dr. Szeinfeld gave her information to carefully review.
The more Cynthia learned about Spinal Cord Stimulation, the more excited she became. “Pain affects every aspect of your life,” she says. “I have three grandchildren who I could not play with and was dependent solely on a cane to get around.” It did not take her long to make the decision to proceed. In November 2004, a temporary unit was scheduled for placement.
Since a Spinal Cord Stimulator is implanted into the lower back, a temporary unit is placed externally to first determine its effectiveness. An electrode is placed under the skin close to the spinal cord and sends small amounts of electricity, which interferes with pain signals sent to the brain. This is an outpatient procedure that does not require the patient to be put to sleep. Although some pressure can be felt during the procedure, there is minimal discomfort.
For the next four days, Cynthia felt like a new person. “Now I believe in miracles.” For the first time in years, she had four days “almost pain-free.” Because the temporary unit proved effective for Cynthia, arrangements were made to implant a unit underneath the skin. Cynthia was given a local anesthetic with sedation to give her continual control with the stimulator. After less than a week to “get used to the vibrating sensations” from the stimulator, Cynthia realized she was getting her life back again. “Shortly afterwards,” she explains, “I left the house to meet friends for dinner. When I arrived at the restaurant, I realized I didn’t have my cane and one of my friends said ‘Well obviously, you don’t need it. I can’t believe the change in you in just one week!’ People now tell me they see a sparkle in my eyes that hasn’t been there in years!”
The long road to comfort has been challenging for Cynthia. Immobility had left her with weakened leg muscles and weight gain. However, her patience has been rewarded. “This is a whole new life for me! I am looking forward to getting back into the pool and doing exercises to get back into shape,” she explains.
One of the pleasures Cynthia most looks forward to is playing and having fun with her grandchildren. “I feel like I have the other half of my life back!”
Spinal Cord Stimulation is effective, yet the patient must be correctly diagnosed in order to be an ideal candidate. If you or someone you know, would like additional information on Spinal Cord Stimulation, call Dr. Szeinfeld’s office at (954) 493-5048.
When Susan Wolfson injured her back in 1994, she could not have imagined that she would endure nearly a decade of debilitating pain as a result. Thanks to an in-office procedure, however, Susan is no longer living with continual discomfort and is getting back to an active, healthy life again.
While millions suffer with arthritic low back and neck pain, those with long-standing osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis can develop painful neck joints and low back pain. Often the pain is located off to one side of the back or neck. It usually worsens when turning the head to one side or the other or with leaning backwards.
In these instances, a treatment called Radiofrequency Neurolysis now offers hope. Radiofrequency Neurolysis, or heat lesioning, has been utilized for many years. It recently regained popularity for its treatment of joint pain.
In Susan’s situation (and many like hers), an arthritic joint constantly and painfully squeezed nerves in the spinal column. On good days, Susan endured “constant pain”. Eventually, she began experiencing cycles of spasms that, as she explains, “felt like a knife in my lower back with pain that would radiate down my leg.”
Susan realized the pain’s intensity and frequency of spasms were getting worse with time. While pain medications and muscle relaxers provided some relief, they also resulted in reduced activity that led to weight gain. Add to that the side effects of some medications, which caused complications that led to other health problems. There was a domino effect in place with no end in sight. After nine years of things getting worse, not better, Susan had had enough.
Fortunately, Susan’s career path created a glimmer of hope. Since her back injury, Susan had become a Senior Certified Pharmacy Technician. Through her position, she learned of a fairly new treatment called Radiofrequency Neurolysis. While Radiofrequency Neurolysis, or heat lesioning, has been utilized for many years, it has recently gained popularity for treating joint pain.
Radiofrequency denervation is an in-office procedure that normally takes around 45 minutes. While the patient relaxes under mild sedation, heat lesions are placed directly on the nerve going from the painful joint. To assure proper location, the nerve is localized precisely with a nerve stimulator. Radiofrequency energy is then used to heat the area in a controlled method to the proper temperature.
Radiofrequency heat lesions can knock out the painful nerve pathway from the joint, reducing pain sensations from the joint. “It is like short-circuiting the pain,” explains Fort Lauderdale Pain Medicine Specialist Marcos Szeinfeld, M.D. “Even pain that has been present for many years can respond to this treatment.”
Susan is certainly a believer. “It changed my life,” she states. “I hadn’t been that pain free in nine years.” With workday responsibilities that have her continually alternating between sitting and standing, reaching and lifting, Susan finds the most she needs now are heat-penetrating ointments.
After the procedure, she also began to regain her energy level. Since her procedure, she has lost over thirty pounds now that she can walk and exercise comfortably.
Radiofrequency is safe and effective and normally covered by Medicare and other insurances. Dr. Szeinfeld adds, “We have many patients who have benefited from this procedure, even when all other types of treatment have failed.” Susan agrees wholeheartedly. “I would recommend this to anyone who has a similar situation. I am just thankful Dr. Szeinfeld offered it to me.”
As if undergoing back surgery wasn’t enough, Keith Wechsler required a second surgery less than a year afterwards to remove scar tissue that formed as a result of his previous surgery. The scar tissue was pushing on nerves, creating a new pain in place of the back pain recently relieved. While his Neurosurgeon was able to provide some relief through epidural injections, Keith was referred to a Pain Medicine specialist to provide a higher level of relief. The Neurosurgeon recommended Fort Lauderdale Pain Medicine Specialist Dr. Marcos Szeinfeld.
Dr. Szeinfeld continued a series of epidural injections that gave a greater degree of comfort. However, Keith feared he was building an increased tolerance to the pain medications that were controlling his reoccurring pain. Reluctant at first to Dr. Szeinfeld’s recommendation for a Spinal Cord Stimulator, Keith became very interested. He learned Spinal Cord Stimulation is scientifically tested, FDA approved, and a safe, effective treatment for certain types of chronic pain associated with the trunk and/or limbs (failed back).
In order to acclimate to the Spinal Cord Stimulator before actually implanting it to Keith’s lower back, an external unit was utilized for a brief trial period. During the procedure, an electrode was placed under the skin close to his spinal cord. This provided very small amounts of electricity, triggering interference of leg pain signals sent to his brain. This is an outpatient hospital procedure that does not require the patient to be put to sleep. Although some pressure can be felt during the procedure, there is minimal discomfort.
During the trial period, the external unit was monitored as the levels were customized to his needs and optimal level of comfort. While Keith was excited that his pain medication requirements were diminishing, he initially felt at odds with his dependency on the device. “I remember the first week realizing, at age 32, this would be a part of my life from then on,” he explains. “It was something I had to get used to mentally.” Yet, after Keith became comfortable with having control of relieving pain, he quickly adapted and decided to proceed with a permanently implanted unit.
The procedure placed the unit underneath the skin. For this, Keith was given a local anesthetic with sedation. The unit is implanted totally underneath the skin and operates on a battery with a 3-5 year life expectancy. Keith adds, “I learned that, by the time this battery would need replacing, there would hopefully be a battery with a greater life expectancy, perhaps a ten year version.” The battery replacement process is a simple outpatient procedure.
His Spinal Cord Stimulator now has Keith in control of his pain with a much diminished need for pain medications. “I don’t expect to ever be pain free,” he explains, “but now I can go out and play with my kids and drive to see clients. Before, I was always concerned that all those medications could result in a risk to myself and others.” As the second youngest person in Florida to have a Spinal Cord Stimulator, Keith now feels this is a positive part of his life. While he is still cautious about over-doing certain activities that could trigger back pain, his computer-consulting firm is running smoothly while he is comfortably at the helm.
Dr. Szeinfeld adds, “For some, expectations of a pain-free life are unrealistic. It is not always possible for modern medicine to repair the source of one’s pain. However, there are ways these individuals can live full lives through today’s pain management techniques. Being able to manage pain is a tremendous advantage.”
These days, 62-year-old Fort Lauderdale resident Carol enjoys taking cruises to far-away places and dancing with her husband. Her ability to physically enjoy these activities is highly cooperative now, thanks to a non-surgical treatment for back pain. While Radiofrequency Neurolysis, or heat lesioning, has been utilized for many years, it has recently become popular for treating spinal joint back pain.
Radiofrequency denervation is an in-office procedure that normally takes less than an hour. The patient relaxes under mild sedation as heat lesions are placed directly on the nerve. Radiofrequency energy is used to heat the area to a controlled temperature, which “short-circuits” the pain at its source.
In Carol’s case, she endured years of pain until finding Radiofrequency Neurolysis. In 1982, she was involved in an automobile accident. Several years later, while trying to change a light bulb at the top of a stairwell, the chair she stood on tipped. These instances amounted to debilitating back pain.
After a Neurosurgeon recommended back surgery, Carol sought another opinion from a Neurologist. The Neurologist felt a specialist in Pain Medicine may be able to help her avoid surgery and referred her to Dr. Marcos Szeinfeld.
Carol’s treatments initially included conservative options of spinal facet joint injections. She immediately experienced welcome relief and found each injection lasted longer than the one prior. On her third visit, Dr. Szeinfeld discussed how Radiofrequency denervation could block the nerve to the joint. “I felt she had good potential for a successful outcome,” Dr. Szeinfeld states, “and this would provide long term relief.”
Radiofrequency targets the painful nerve pathway from the spinal joint. Dr. Marcos Szeinfeld says, “Radiofrequency has an excellent track record and most have a positive response to treatment. Recovery time is minimal and the majority of patients are back to their normal routine the next day.”
Radiofrequency can provide years of relief, depending upon the individual and the physical demands of their day-to-day lifestyle. Yet, if necessary, Radiofrequency can be performed again to help one resume comfort that is interrupted by overdoing or re-injury. For instance, Carol began to experience muscle spasms nine months later after helping her parents move into a new home. Another Radiofrequency treatment restored her comfort once again. “It has certainly kept me going,” Carol adds. “I am so grateful.”
For approximately the past 30 to 35 years, I had been suffering with various issues related to and problems with my spine. These problems ranged all the way from my cervical spine to my tail bone. Over the years, I had seen an array of General Practioners, Chiropractors, Neurologists, Neurosurgeons and Pain Management Facilities. I have had virtually every test available over the years, many of them multiple multiple times. I have had multiple surgeries over the years, the most recent being to have three cervical vertebra fused and the discs replaced with donor bone. I also have a plate with six screws. As a side effect of all my nerve damage in my neck, I needed to have additional surgery on my wrist and elbow.
Throughout all these years, the general consensus from all the doctors and surgeons was always the same: therapy, exercise and/or pain medication. What do you do when the therapy is not helping? Just how long can someone keep taking large dose of serious narcotics on a daily basis without them having effects of their own?
I was eventually referred to Dr. Sergio Lenchig. When we met at my first visit, we started with the usual medical histories, previous surgeries, allergies, etc. Within a short time into my visit, I realized I made the right choice. Dr. Lenchig could truly see how my condition had taken over control of my life, both physically and emotionally. He also understood how this was affecting my family life. At the end of this visit, he shook my hand and made me a promise he was going to help me.
Within a short time period, Dr Lenchig suggested to me the idea of a Spinal Cord Stimulator as a means to help control pain and make it “livable”. He explained the pros and cons of this type of device, what hopefully could be expected by having it, how the implant itself is done, but most of all he explained the trial installation. I went through this trial period, and the Spinal Cord Stimulator actually made a noticeable difference.
The permanent Spinal Cord Stimulator has now been implanted by Dr. Lenchig and it, he and his office staff (who handled all the necessary paperwork for me), have changed my life. I now have both the ability and desire to get up, go places and do things. It has not been a 100% percent improvement, but more than enough to allow me to do things I couldn’t before or had no interest in doing.
I owe a lot to Dr. Lenchig and everyone in his office, but I especially appreciate that he kept the promise he made to me on our first visit.
Just wanted you to see my tennis trophy I won a year after my lower back R.F. Abalation,feeling great.