Secret Weapon

Advanced nerve stimulator relieves neuropathy pain.

At 50, Ruth Ann Rhodes was still young when she retired after 30 years as a supervisor for a dry cleaner in New York City. After living in the big city, Ruth Ann found her quiet home in Citrus Springs very comfortable. Her life in Florida was not perfect, however. The Staten Island native suffered with intense pain in her back, down her leg and in her feet.

Dr. Mark Fallows of Pain Institute of Central Florida in Lecanto treated Ruth Ann Rhodes for sciatica and severe peripheral neuropathy with a dorsal root ganglion stimulator.

Ruth Ann is on her feet again, which makes Cody happy, too.

“I had sciatica, and it was very bad. It had been going on about three years,” she shares. “It started when we came here to build this house. We were renting a house in Beverly Hills, and I picked up a box the wrong way.

“I had terrible pain running down my right leg. I also have neuropathy in both of my feet, and that pain was just horrible.”

Over time, Ruth Ann’s condition continued to deteriorate. Eventually, the pain in her leg and feet started to disable her, and she had to give up many of her routine activities.

“I could hardly walk, and I love to walk,” she states. “My husband and I used to walk two miles every day, and I couldn’t do that anymore. Somebody had to come in and do my housework because I couldn’t do it myself. And I couldn’t walk my dog at all. I had to put up a fence in the backyard so he could go out.”

Over the years, Ruth Ann tried different physicians and treatments, including physical therapy and a variety of medications. None brought her any lasting relief. Finally, one of her physicians recommended pain management specialist Mark Fallows, DO, of Pain Institute of Central Florida. She made an appointment and was glad she did.

“Dr. Fallows was just wonderful,” she says. “He was the nicest doctor, and he knows how to work with the elderly. He’s got a good sense of humor, and a good staff working with him.

“First, he tried shots in my back, and they worked for a month or two, then I had to go back. After a while, they didn’t work at all. Then, one day, he said, Mrs. Rhodes, you’re going to walk again. I promise you that.”

That was a huge promise, but Dr. Fallows was counting on a device that recently became available in the United States. Like a spinal cord stimulator, this new treatment is an implantable device that blocks out severe pain, including neuropathy pain. It’s called a dorsal root ganglion stimulator.

Dr. Fallows is uniquely qualified to manage complex pain issues for local residents, whom he has served since 1990. He is certified by the American Osteopathic Board of Anesthesiology and the American Board of Interventional Pain Physicians (ABIPP). ABIPP has certified fewer than 400 physicians nationally. Further, Dr. Fallows is the only physician in Citrus County who is board certified in interventional pain management.

“At Pain Institute of Central Florida, I offer comprehensive treatments to ease people’s suffering,” reports the doctor. “I employ an array of modalities and specialize in a variety of pain management techniques, such as neurostimulator implantation, spinal infusion pumps and radiofrequency ablation. Physicians often refer their patients who have unrelenting pain to my practice. I also welcome individuals who seek out my help on their own.”

Game-Changing Option

According to Dr. Fallows, dorsal root ganglion stimulation is a modification of spinal cord stimulation. However, this device targets a specific area of the spinal nerve, the dorsal root ganglion.

“The dorsal root ganglion is a cluster of nerve cells where the nerve leaves the spinal cord and exits the spine,” he explains. “The dorsal side of the cluster contains sensory cells, so when we stimulate that area, we can block pain and not cause the patient any residual sensation.

“Just as we do with spinal cord stimulators, dorsal root ganglion stimulators are first evaluated in a trial, typically a one-week test drive. If the patient shows significant improvement in pain and function during the trial, a permanent device is implanted.”

Dr. Fallows notes that Ruth Ann had suffered from back pain and sciatica for many years. However, the neuropathy caused her the most distress and kept her off of her feet.

“We tried adjusting her medications, which were the only treatment available for neuropathy, but nothing relieved her pain,” he observes. “We were so excited when the stimulator came along. I thought, This is just what Ruth Ann needs to get some relief in her feet and get walking again.

“The stimulator is a blessing. It’s like a little transistor Dr. Fallows implanted in the left side of my buttocks. I also have another little machine that I keep charged,” describes Ruth Ann. “I point the little machine at the implant. I don’t know what it does to it, but it makes me feel better.”

The dorsal root ganglion stimulator is a game-changer in the treatment of neuropathy, states Dr. Fallows. It is another effective option for relieving neuropathy pain and disability.

Housework Happy

When Ruth Ann began seeing Dr. Fallows many years ago, the treatments he provided had a minor impact on her pain. But when the doctor implanted the dorsal root ganglion stimulator, Ruth Ann experienced major positive results.Dr. Mark Fallows of Pain Institute of Central Florida in Lecanto treated Ruth Ann Rhodes for sciatica and severe peripheral neuropathy with a dorsal root ganglion stimulator.

“When I had the stimulator put in, it changed my whole life. Now, the pain is gone. I have no pain at all down my right leg,” she notes. “I still have neuropathy in my feet, but I’ll always have that. Dr. Fallows said this machine can’t eliminate the pain totally.”

Still, the neuropathy pain in Ruth Ann’s feet has been reduced so significantly, she has returned to her activities without restrictions. She’s thrilled to do the simple routines she was forced to give up before.

“Now, I can walk two miles every day,” she relates. “I can walk the dog. I walk him early in the morning and at night when it’s cooler. I’m doing my own housework. I’m cleaning my house, and I feel wonderful. I feel like a new person.”

The dorsal root ganglion stimulator is definitely a success for Ruth Ann. She recommends the device to others with sciatica and neuropathy pain. She also rates Dr. Fallows and his practice highly. After all, Dr. Fallows kept his promise to her.

“I recommend Pain Institute of Central Florida and Dr. Fallows in a minute,” she says. “I can’t believe what
Dr. Fallows did for me. He’s a wonderful person and a miracle doctor.

“Dr. Fallows is the best. He got me walking again, and gave me my life back!”

FHCN article by Patti DiPanfilo. Photo by Jordan Pysz. Graphic from mkb
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