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Swelling Relief

Compression pumps relieve swelling from venous disease, lymphedema.

When Veronica* was 17, her mother brought her and her three younger sisters from their native Dominican Republic to live in America. Veronica’s mother had come to the United States beforehand to establish a new home and life for her daughters.

“The Dominican Republic is a third-world country, so it was hard for my mother, who is a single parent, to raise four daughters there Photo courtesy of AcuteWound.and care for herself,” Veronica shares. “She wanted us to have a better future.

“So after she moved to the United States first, we stayed with my grandmother, and my mother sent back money. My mother worked very hard to get a place for herself and become stable, then she brought us up to help her out and go to school.”

Veronica adapted to life in the US pretty quickly, but learning English was difficult for her. She refused to give up, however, because she was determined to learn the language of her adopted homeland.

“I knew I would learn English one day,” Veronica states. “I knew that with patience, perseverance, dedication and continuing to go to school, I would get it. And I did. Now, I’m bilingual, and that makes me an asset to the company I work for.”

Veronica works from home using her computer. But all the sitting that’s involved with her job took a toll on the circulation in her legs. They began to swell, and the swelling got worse as her condition progressed. For treatment, Veronica’s primary care physician referred her to a vascular surgeon who specializes in leg vein disorders.

“By that time, my circulation was worse,” Veronica relates. “I also had pain and heaviness in my legs.”

The procedure on Veronica’s leg veins helped; however, Veronica suffered with more than venous disease. She also had lymphedema, a condition that causes excess fluid to accumulate in the lymph vessels. Too much fluid in these vessels leads to swelling.

“I asked the vascular surgeon if there was anything else that could help with the swelling,” Veronica recalls. “The doctor referred me to Acute Wound Care.”

“After my initial session with the compression pump, there was a noticeable difference. My legs looked skinny, like when I was younger, and they didn’t feel as heavy.” – Veronica

Acute Wound Care is a fully accredited home medical equipment provider specializing in hospital-grade compression devices and specialty wound-care dressings. The compression pumps, which reduce swelling caused by conditions such as venous disease and lymphedema, are prescription devices. They are approved by most insurers.

“Acute Wound Care sent a very professional representative named Crystal to my house to install the compression pump,” Veronica recounts. “I’m a single mother of two sons. It was quite difficult to find a good time during the week to do the install, so Crystal came on a Saturday to accommodate my schedule.”

“My role as a compression therapist is to assist patients with the application of their compression devices,” verifies Crystal Benavides, certified compression therapist at Acute Wound Care. “I enjoy educating patients on the purpose of the treatment and on how consistency will provide the best results so they can improve their quality of life and easily perform daily activities.”

Blood Flow Benefits

Acute Wound Care’s easy-to-use compression pumps remove fluid that has accumulated in the patient’s legs or arms, Crystal notes. “In this instance, Veronica had swelling from her mid-thigh down to the tips of her toes.

“The pump has limb-sized sleeves that are placed on the arms or legs,” Crystal describes. “It gently massages the limb, draining any excess fluid back into the body’s circulatory system so it can be naturally eliminated. This alleviates swelling and many painful symptoms.”

Photo courtesy of AcuteWound. The pumps are highly effective and noninvasive, and for the legs, they are much easier to use than compression stockings.

“Each patient is different, but most patients use the pump twice a day for forty-five minutes, usually in the morning and in the evening,” Crystal affirms. “While using the pump, patients simply sit back with their limbs raised to further assist with decreasing swelling.”

The sleeves of the compression pump contain multiple chambers. During treatment, each chamber fills up with compressed air. Then, each chamber releases and the pattern repeats in a rhythmic fashion, forcing any excess fluid out of the limbs.

“With venous disease, also known as venous insufficiency, there’s typically a slowness of blood flow through the leg veins,” Crystal reports. “The compression pumps not only push the lymphatic fluid through the legs, they also work hand-in-hand to assist blood flow in leg veins.

“The compression pump helps with venous insufficiency because it pushes blood up through the legs toward the torso. The blood is aided along the circulatory system back toward the heart to get re-oxygenated and redistributed throughout the arteries. Swelling caused by leaky leg veins prevents blood from properly flowing through the veins. Reducing the swelling improves blood flow.”

Results from a compression pump treatment are often apparent immediately. Many patients see a noticeable difference in the swelling and in the size of their limbs after their first forty-five-minute pumping session. This was true in Veronica’s case.

“After my initial session with the compression pump, there was a noticeable difference,” Veronica enthuses. “My legs looked skinny, like when I was younger, and they didn’t feel as heavy. I thought, Oh my God! I can’t believe this.”

Physicians throughout Florida have been recommending Acute Wound Care’s compression pumps to their patients for years and have been getting great results.

“Many doctors have told us they’ve encouraged their patients to use the pump to reduce limb swelling and improve circulation,” Crystal observes. “They say the compression pumps are safe, noninvasive devices that greatly supplement the medical treatment they provide to those patients.”

Comfy Shoes

Veronica’s vascular surgeon had recommended compression stockings as an initial treatment for her leg swelling, but Veronica wasn’t happy with them.

“I tried compression stockings, and they made matters worse,” Veronica recalls. “They were too tight, and there were times I felt I couldn’t even breathe. I told my doctor, These are not helping me. That’s when he referred me to Acute Wound Care for the compression pump.

“The pump felt a little funny at first because of the pressure. It puts a little bit of pressure on my legs, then it goes up to my thighs. But then it releases the pressure, so it’s not uncomfortable like compression stockings because it’s not constant pressure. It gives me a break in between.”

The compression pump reduced Veronica’s swelling overall and made even small tasks easier.

“The swelling was in both of my legs, and especially in my feet,” Veronica notes. “Before, I couldn’t get into my shoes. They were really tight, so I was wearing a size larger. But after treatment with my compression pump, my feet fit in my shoes with no problem.”

Veronica is quite happy with her compression pump from Acute Wound Care, and she’s extremely impressed by the compression therapist who came to her home to install it.

“Crystal was very professional and compassionate,” Veronica describes. “She related to me as a single mother and worked with me. She very patiently explained the process. She explained everything, then asked if I had any questions or doubts. She guided me through the whole thing. I’m very pleased with her service and recommend her.

“I feel great about the choice I made to go with Acute Wound Care, and I recommend them. I’ve already recommended them to my mother, who has the same problem as me. I’m happy to share my good experience because the compression pump is actually working for me. I can see the progress, and I feel good.”

*Patient’s name withheld at her request.

Pain in the Toe?

Calluses, corns caused by hammertoe can be corrected.

Misalignment of the joint of the big toe can result in an unequal distribution of pressure on the foot when walking,” says board-certified podiatric surgeon Robert P. Dunne, DPM, FACFAS, of Lake Washington Foot & Ankle. “This condition can also lead to the formation of calluses and the development of the sometimes painful condition called hammertoe.”

Hammertoe is a bending or curling of the toe that often results in the formation of corns or calluses as the toe deformity presses unnaturally against a person’s footwear.

“Hammertoes are typically caused by a contracture,” notes Dr. Dunne. “This is an irregular and potentially permanent shortening of muscle or scar tissue that results in the deformity of the toe joint.

“A hammertoe can become very painful,” he adds, “sometimes rubbing against the shoe, causing a corn to occur. If the corn is painful, we know that the corn itself is actually not the problem, but only a symptom. The problem is the underlying hammertoe deformity. Unless the affected toe is straightened out, there will inevitably be an issue with corns or calluses.”

Dr. Dunne always offers conservative treatments to his patients before recommending an invasive procedure. Those treatments include non-medicated pads, anti-inflammatory medications and therapeutic shoes.

Outpatient Offering

In cases where hammertoe pain is resistant to treatment, Dr. Dunne may recommend a hammertoe correction, an outpatient procedure performed under local anesthesia either in the comfort of Dr. Dunne’s office or a hospital setting.

During surgical hammertoe correction, a small portion of cartilage and bone is removed from the joint to decompress it.

“Typically, we use a pin to hold the alignment in place that is painlessly removed in the office after about thirty days,” Dr. Dunne explains. “However, not all hammertoes require fixation. There are now implantable devices where we can use a small bone graft if joint fusion is required.

“Whether the patient requires a pin or an implantable device, in the vast majority of cases, he or she will be able to walk on the foot immediately after surgery and during the healing period. The patient can walk on the foot the same day to a limited extent and is usually back to normal activities within a week.”

Lake Washington Foot & Ankle is a comprehensive podiatric medicine clinic offering treatment for everything from hammertoes to bunions. “We treat ingrown toenails, warts and neuromas,” adds Dr. Dunne. “We also do clinical trials for onychomycosis [nail fungus] in an effort to find better and more effective treatment for this ailment.

“Our patients come first, and we recommend that they take action now if they have a problem. I would encourage people not to wait so long to come in. The earlier we address a condition, the easier it is to resolve it.

Spinal Decompression Therapy FAQs

December 30th, 2019

Neck and back pain are unfortunate issues that most of us experience at some point in our lives. Our bodies are, after all, flesh and blood, and we often forget how much we put them through on a daily basis. Americans spend over 50 billion dollars every year on pain management, which includes everything from MRIs to pain medications. It’s safe to say that people are trying whatever they can to improve the quality of their lives. But who wants to deal with the pain, baggage, and potential problems that can result from surgery or taking narcotics?

Fortunately, there is another option available. Spinal Decompression Therapy has exploded throughout the chiropractic world over the last decade as more and more chiropractors are implementing the treatment into their services. Why? Because it works. We’ve broken down the top questions and concerns and debunked a few myths so you can familiarize yourself with a new potential option to treat your pain.

What Is Spinal Decompression Therapy?

Spinal Decompression Therapy (SDT) is a method of gently decompressing or stretching the spine. The spine itself is not actually the main focus through this procedure – that is the intervertebral discs. Through stretching, space is created between each vertebrae to relieve pressure and give the intervertebral discs room to correct themselves.

What Are Intervertebral Discs?

Intervertebral discs are gel-like cushions that sit between each vertebrae of the spine. Their purposes are to hold the vertebrae together, absorb shock, and protect the spinal nerves. When these discs are damaged or injured, they can cause severe pain and discomfort. They also can bulge or break off, which puts pressure on the surrounding nerves.

What Can Spinal Decompression Therapy Treat?

Spinal Decompression Therapy can treat:

  • Spinal Radiculopathy – A condition due to a compressed nerve in the spine that can cause pain, numbness, tingling, or weakness of the nerve. It is most common in the neck and lower back.
  • Myelopathy – A nervous system disorder that affects the spinal cord.
  • Claudication – A common symptom of lumbar spinal stenosis which causes inflammation of the nerves emerging from the spinal cord.
  • Bulging, Degenerating, or Herniated Discs – A condition where the soft center of a spinal disk pushes through a crack in the tough exterior casing. It can irritate nearby nerves and result in pain, numbness, or weakness in an arm or leg.
  • Sciatica – Pain radiating along the sciatic nerve, which runs down one or both legs from the lower back. It primarily occurs when a herniated disk or bone spur in the spine presses on the nerve and usually only affects one side of the body.
  • Spinal Stenosis – A narrowing of the spaces within the spine, which can put pressure on the nerves. It occurs most often in the neck and lower back.

What Is the Recovery Time for Spinal Decompression Therapy Surgery?

Spinal Decompression Therapy is non-surgical and non-invasive, so there is no surgery recovery time. As a therapy, SDT takes place over time and is not a solution that can be completed in a single visit.

How Long Does Spinal Decompression Therapy Take?

The length of time and number of visits you’ll need to schedule will be different for each individual based off of your specific circumstances and physical needs. On average, most people need to attend between 15 to 30 separate sessions. Each SDT session usually lasts between 30 to 45 minutes.

What Equipment Is Used?

Chiropractors who follow the most recent advances in industry standards use state of the art equipment, such as the Accu-SPINA table, to perform Spinal Decompression Therapy. The Accu-SPINA system was developed by physicians and scientists to help combat neck and back pain that is unresponsive to other therapies. Clinical trials performed with the Accu-SPINA system revealed that 86% of participants experienced symptoms of pain relief.

Where Can I Find Spinal Decompression Near Me?

An experienced chiropractor in your area that has successfully completed the Spinal Decompression Therapy training and certification program can help bring you relief through Spinal Decompression Therapy.

When Should I Try Spinal Decompression Therapy?

If you’re experiencing neck and back pain and have not had any relief or progress with other kinds of therapies, Spinal Decompression Therapy may be your next option. Whether you’ve been battling chronic pain for years or have just recently been involved in an auto accident, Spinal Decompression Therapy is an option at any time in your recovery process. Don’t hesitate to see an SDT trained and certified chiropractor as soon as possible since it is possible for many injuries our bodies sustain to not make themselves known right away and worsen over time. Also keep in mind that if you’ve been in an auto accident, you only have 14 days from the date of the accident to seek medical care and have it covered by your personal injury protection insurance.

Positive Perceptions

Unique therapy stops neuropathic pain, restores sensation.

Tim* was a man on the move for most of his adult life. He served in the US Army for six years, during which he spent 13 months in Korea and two years in Alaska, both while working as a heavy equipment operator.

Following his discharge, Tim earned a chauffeur’s license and began driving a semi. He liked the work, but it came with long hours and sleepless nights. Still, he made a good living driving the big rigs.

Tim retired in 2018 after more than 35 years on the job. Upon retiring, the Iowa native packed up and relocated to Florida.

“I moved for the weather,” Tim admits. “I was tired of the thirty-five-degrees-below-zero mornings in Iowa. Plus, I love to fish, and there are huge fish in Florida. I can fish year-round, and in the winter, I don’t have to dig a hole in the ice like I did back home.”

A few years ago, Tim’s retirement was interrupted by an irritating pain, numbness and tingling that he felt mostly in the tops of his feet.

“My feet also burned inside, especially at night, so I couldn’t get comfortable,” Tim describes. “Some nights, the pain kept me up, and I had to cool off my feet by submerging them in cold water, which temporarily stopped the pain. On those nights, the pain was a five or six on a scale of one to ten.”

Tim initially sought help for the problem from his primary care physician, who referred him to Thomas A. LeBeau, DPM, a board-certified podiatrist at St. Augustine Foot, Ankle & Vein. After running some tests, Dr. LeBeau diagnosed the problem as neuropathy.

Neuropathy is a common problem that affects more than 20 million Americans. The most common causes of neuropathy include diabetes, chemotherapy and exposure to chemicals, including Agent Orange and other pesticides and herbicides.

Neuropathy occurs when the peripheral nerves that run from the brain and spinal cord to the rest of the body are injured, affecting sensation throughout the body. As was the case with Tim, typical symptoms include sharp, shooting pain; burning, tingling, numbness and a pins and needles sensation in the hands or feet.

“There are certain tests for diagnosing neuropathy and determining if someone is a good candidate for treatment,” notes Melissa Spies, AGNP-C, a board-certified nurse practitioner at
St. Augustine Foot, Ankle & Vein. “Those tests include MRIs, nerve conduction studies and nerve fiber biopsies.

“Nerve conduction studies reveal the condition of the large nerve fibers. They help determine where the neuropathy originates, whether it’s coming from the neck, lower back, sciatic nerve or elsewhere.

“A nerve fiber biopsy, taken from the skin, alerts of damage to the microscopic nerve fibers responsible for sensing temperature, pressure and pain. We performed a nerve fiber biopsy on Tim, and it showed he was a good candidate for a unique treatment protocol that we have, and he agreed to give it a try.”

Thomas A. LeBeau, DPM (left) and Melissa Spies, AGNP-C

Resonant Frequencies

The unique protocol used at St. Augustine Foot, Ankle & Vein is electric cell signaling treatment, or ECST. It is a noninvasive treatment that uses pulsed energy waves to treat the painful area of the body.

“Traditional treatments for neuropathy rely on medications such as gabapentin, LYRICA® and antidepressants,” Dr. LeBeau explains. “But these medications simply cover up the symptoms and enable the patient to deal with the pain.

“Not only that, there is a huge concern today about overuse of opioid medications, and one of the nice things about our technology is that it uses energy rather than pills to accomplish pain management.

“With ECST, we get people off medication and solve their underlying problem at the same time because ECST gets to the root of the problem and repairs the damage done by the diabetes, chemotherapy or environmental contaminant.

“Proper use of this unique protocol can in fact safely and effectively treat most pain and circulatory conditions. We use it specifically for neuropathies and chronic nerve pain and are one of the biggest clinics in the country using this technology.”

ECST, which is covered by most insurance, works by treating neuropathy at the cellular level. It incites changes in cells that include a reduction in swelling, the removal of excess fluid and waste products, a leveling out of pH and an increase in cellular metabolism. These changes relieve pain, enable healing and restore function.

“We are achieving great results with ECST at St. Augustine Foot, Ankle and Vein. Up to eighty-seven percent of our patients attain symptom relief with this technology. They are experiencing a decrease in pain, reversal of numbness and improvement in circulation and sensation, which leads to better balance. And that is a major factor in fall prevention.”

Hurts So Good

Tim was among the 87 percent who achieved positive results with ECST. He felt improvement in his neuropathy symptoms shortly after beginning the therapy.

“After the third ECST session, I noticed my neuropathy wasn’t nearly as severe as it was,” he enthuses. “After seven treatments, there was no more tingling, burning or pain in my feet. I also noticed I was more coordinated when I walked, and I had more sensation in my feet.

“One day, I was walking barefoot when I stepped on something sharp and hurt my foot. I thought, Wow, I haven’t felt that kind of pain in a long time. It must be those ECST treatments. Having that pain in my foot actually made me feel good.”

“After seven treatments, there was no more tingling, burning or pain in my feet.” -Tim

Tim never heard of ECST as a treatment for neuropathy until his family doctor referred him to Dr. LeBeau, but now, he tells everybody he knows about the unique therapy.

“I called my brother and daughter-in-law in Iowa because they have the same problem,” Tim shares. “I told them about ECST, but there’s no treatment center in Iowa that offers it. I just about had them convinced to travel to Florida to have it done here.

“The nurse in Dr. LeBeau’s office said there are only a few centers in the country that perform ECST, so I’m pretty lucky to live near St. Augustine Foot, Ankle and Vein. I recommend ECST to anybody, and I also recommend Dr. LeBeau and his staff. With their help, my feet are no longer a problem for me.”

*Patient’s name withheld at his request.

 

20,000 Documented Eye Floater Laser Sessions

South Florida Eye Clinic staff are the experts with a worldwide patient base.

Scott L. Geller, MD

Patients often ask Scott Geller, MD, “why can’t my local doctor laser eye floaters.”

“Because this is a niche area of interest, and most ophthalmologists will not take the time to really get into it,” Dr. Geller states. “It’s a bit like plastic surgery. Any intern can make an incision and stitch skin, but it takes years of experience to size up a patient, know exactly how to modify a technique, and get the absolute best result possible.”

Dr. Geller has that experience. He has performed more than 20,000 eye floater laser procedures across his career. He also has given an impressive number of lectures all over the world on his research and technique.

“Florida has some great Ophthalmic Centers, including the schools in Tampa, Gainesville and the Bascom-Palmer Eye Institute in Miami,” says Dr. Geller. “But their interests lie elsewhere. So, all the advances have been done here, outside academia, by private clinics.”

Understanding the Patient

Many ophthalmologists don’t understand what a patient with eye floaters is experiencing, Dr. Geller says. As a matter of routine, he adds, they measure the patient’s best vision, which is typically normal, check for a retinal tear or detachment and, barring anything unusual, tell the patient he or she will be fine, because the retina looks fine and the floater will either fade or the patient will get used to it.

To which the patient responds, but doctor, I can’t see.”

“It is true that, for the majority of patients, floaters do seem to fade, or the patient does get used to them,” Dr. Geller notes. “But that’s not always the case. That’s why ophthalmologists need to listen to the patient’s problem and thoroughly examine the vitreous gel, where eye floaters are formed.

“If the ophthalmologist measures only the patient’s best vision on an eye chart, they may not correctly diagnose the problem and might dismiss the patient out of hand, telling them that nothing needs to be done, which may leave the patient bewildered and frustrated.

“This is one of the areas of ophthalmology that is routinely ignored by many ophthalmologists, and the reason for this is simple: They don’t take the patient’s visual acuity with the floater in the visual axis.

“We have seen patients reporting improvement of overall vision even with macular degeneration and Lazy Eye [amblyopia] where the floater causes interfering noise with the good eye.

“At South Florida Eye Clinic, we always measure the patient’s worst vision on the eye chart to see exactly how bad the vision gets with the floater obstructing it.”

Laser Treatment

Scott L. Geller, MD

Dr. Geller has performed more than 20,000 documented eye floater lasers sessions across more than 30 years of service to patients from all over the world.

“We have a worldwide patient following and have helped people from Japan, the People’s Republic of China, Russia and almost every European country,” the doctor notes.

Recently, Dr. Geller was a featured lecturer for the fourth year in a row at an International Ophthalmology Meeting in Taormina, Sicily, Italy. Other experts from Holland and Italy presented papers on their experiences treating eye floaters with the laser as well as traditional surgery. Patients from other areas of Italy came to Sicily to be examined and treated by Dr. Geller.

“I have quite a reputation in Europe and have treated patients in Italy with the Ellex Laser, but in the USA I find the Swiss made LASAG laser to be the best,” states Dr. Geller. “And we are the only facility using it in the USA.”

“My first scientific presentation was at the 1989 International Congress of Ophthalmology in Singapore,” he adds. “It was followed by lectures at several conferences in China, including the prestigious Shanghai Eye and Ear Institute.

“Other major meetings included the 1997 European Congress of Cataract and Refractive Surgery in Prague; the 1999 Florida Society of Ophthalmology; the 2001 European Congress of Ophthalmology in Istanbul; the 2010 World Congress of Ophthalmology in Berlin and the 2010 American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery in Boston. There was also a peer-reviewed presentation at the American Academy of Ophthalmology in Chicago in 2012.”

Dr. Geller’s latest presentations were at the prestigious Florida Society of Ophthalmology and the Orione Ophthalmic Congress in Italy, where he performed eye floater laser sessions on selected patients.

“Many doctors tell their patients, live with it, nothing can be done or get vitrectomy surgery,” Dr. Geller notes. “But the problem with vitrectomy surgery, which is the surgical removal of the entire vitreous gel [where floaters begin] is that it is not without its own problems.

“Most patients over the age of forty will develop an early cataract and will need another operation as early as six months to a year later. This is due to the physiology of the eye, not the skill of the surgeon.

“In my hands, with my years of experience, complications are rare,” assures Dr. Geller, who presented his results at the American Academy of Ophthalmology in 2012, and other meetings worldwide.

Finding Dr. Geller

Dr. Geller confides that patients often find him in a roundabout way.

“Recently, a man in West Palm Beach went to the satellite clinic of a world-famous Miami eye institute,” the doctor reports. “They told him they couldn’t do anything for him except vitrectomy, but they also told him, there’s an ophthalmologist on the West Coast of Florida who can treat your eye with a laser.

“It wasn’t a direct referral, but the patient managed to find me and was ecstatic with his results. Subsequently, I uploaded a video of his procedure to YouTube.com and Vimeo.com, which can be found among dozens of videos I’ve posted.”

Dr. Geller cautions that not all patients can be helped with his laser procedure, though he is pleased to report that, partially due to his meticulous patient selection process, his patient results are excellent.

Laser Selection

While treating patients in Sardinia, Dr. Geller used the Ellex Laser when performing his eye laser floater procedures.

“As I said previously, I find the Swiss-made LASAG Microruptor YAG laser to be the best,” he states. “This laser was specifically designed by renowned Professor Franz Fankhauser of the University Eye Clinic, Bern, Switzerland, to safely cut membranes deep in
the eye’s interior.

“I have tried other lasers, and if they were superior, I would purchase one immediately. But I use the Swiss-made LASAG laser. It is definitely superior to the others out there in my experience. And I have two of them.”

Dr. Geller always welcomes colleagues to observe or just call if they need to refine their own technique.

“Laser treatment of eye floaters is fascinating,” Dr. Geller says. “I look forward to doing this every day.”

Dr. Geller says that, while his greatest satisfaction comes from helping patients who have been told by their own ophthalmologists that nothing can be done, he actually welcomes the opportunity to share his technique with others in his field.

“Other ophthalmologists need only call me, or ask one of my patients about their results,” he says. “I’m proud of our track record and of the patients we’ve helped.”

Article submitted by Scott L. Geller, MD.

Boogie Fever

Photo courtesy of Estela Garcia Cabrera.

Estela Garcia Cabrera

Arthritic knee rebounds after treatment with amniotic stem cells and PRP.

When Estela Garcia Cabrera’s father fled Cuba, he didn’t speak a word of English. So instead of relocating to the United States proper, he moved his family to the US territory of Puerto Rico, where the population speaks predominantly Spanish, his native tongue.

Moving to the small island territory had a profound impact on Estela.

“Living in Puerto Rico, I had the opportunity to attend Pontifical Catholic University and earn a master’s degree,” she relates. “With that, I became a Spanish professor at Pontifical Catholic and finished my career there. I taught at the university for forty years and loved my students. For me, they were the best part of teaching.”

Estela, 74, met and eventually married her husband in Puerto Rico, where the couple raised two daughters, one of whom is a doctor at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in St. Augustine. Estela and her husband are both retired now and live half the year in Puerto Rico and the other half in Florida in Pembroke Pines.

While here in Florida a few years back, Estela’s husband developed a wound on his leg that wouldn’t heal. Their daughter recommended he visit Rosana Rodriguez, DPM, at All About Feet & Legs in St. Augustine. Estela was so impressed by Dr. Rodriguez’s treatment for her husband that she visited the doctor when she developed symptoms of her own.

“Dr. Rodriguez healed my husband’s wound in five days,” Estela raves. “So, I went to see her when my legs started hurting. Both legs became very painful. Dr. Rodriguez performed a procedure for insufficient veins, and the pain went away.

“But I also had a problem with my right knee that started about two years ago and got progressively worse. It went from a little painful to very painful, a nine or ten on a scale of one to ten.

“I had trouble going up and down stairs, and walking. I used to walk an hour every morning, but I reached a point where I couldn’t walk, couldn’t swim and couldn’t dance, which is something I really enjoy doing.”

X-rays showed Estela had severe arthritis, which destroyed the protective cartilage in her right knee. An orthopedic surgeon told her she needed knee replacement surgery, but Estela desired to avoid surgery. She returned to All About Feet & Legs hoping Dr. Rodriguez would offer an alternative treatment. Dr. Rodriguez had just the thing for her.

“Estela is a very active lady. She and her husband travel a lot, and she was having severe pain in her right knee that was affecting her activities of daily living,” Dr. Rodriguez observes. “The surgeon recommended a total knee replacement, but because of her level of activity, Estela did not want surgery. She did not want to be housebound or slowed down during the months of recuperation following surgery.

“I offered Estela a different type of treatment to try to improve her symptoms. It is regenerative medicine that combines amniotic stem cells and platelet-rich plasma, or PRP. These two factors work together to accelerate healing and regenerate damaged tissues.”

Tissue Regeneration

The stem cells Dr. Rodriguez uses for the regenerative medicine procedures she offers at All About Feet & Legs are amniotic stem cells. They are obtained from the placentas of heathy women who donate the tissue following caesarean deliveries. The PRP is obtained from the patient’s blood.

“Amniotic stem cells are young cells that contain many growth factors,” Dr. Rodriguez describes. “I combine that with PRP, which is the patient’s own growth factors, and I inject the mixture into the area of the affected tissue, which can be tendons, ligaments, nerves or joints. For Estela, it was her right knee.

“These growth factors initiate the process to repair the injured tissue, whether it is a muscle, ligament, tendon, nerve or joint. They reduce inflammation as well, which decreases pain. The growth factors also stimulate tissue regeneration, including cartilage regeneration in arthritic joints.”

Dr. Rodriguez’s regenerative medicine technique is a process. On the day of the injection, the patient’s blood is drawn and placed in a centrifuge to obtain the PRP, which is then mixed with the stem cells. At that point, the injection site is numbed with a local anesthetic.

“The injection is placed using fluoroscopy guidance if I am injecting a joint or ultrasound guidance if I am injecting a tendon, ligament or soft tissue,” Dr. Rodriguez notes. “Typically, patients require only one injection to achieve significant improvement in their condition. Occasionally, a patient will need more than one injection to achieve improvement and to avoid surgery.

“In Estela’s case, a single injection improved her function enough so that she can now perform her activities of daily living without discomfort. At this stage, she does not require knee replacement surgery. She is able to walk. She told me she has been able to go to the mall and walk with no pain. In the past, she had to stop to rest her knee.”

Positive Signs

Dr. Rodriguez chose regenerative medicine to improve Estela’s arthritic right knee to a healthier state. The doctor used an injection of stem cells and PRP growth factors to initiate cartilage regeneration and tissue repair in Estela’s knee. While this process occurs over several weeks, Estela noticed positive signs early on.

“It’s only been four weeks since I got the stem cells, but my knee is already better than it was,” Estela enthuses. “In the morning, I don’t have any pain when I get up.”

Estela is taking full advantage of her improved health. She’s being as active as she can be with the improvement she’s achieved thus far and looks forward to even greater improvement and a return to all of her activities in the near future.

“I’m back to walking a little, and I’m swimming and doing aqua aerobics in our apartment pool,” Estela reports. “An instructor at the complex clubhouse taught me the exercises to do for the aqua aerobics, and I think those exercises are helping my knee.

“I still haven’t gone back to dancing, which is something I had to give up when my knee pain got really bad. But I know I’ll soon be dancing again, and I can’t wait for that, because dancing is something I love to do.”

Estela’s quality of life has improved significantly. She says she’s seen enough results to feel comfortable recommending the stem cells and PRP. Regenerative medicine is definitely a better option than surgery, she opines.

“And I recommend getting those treatments from Dr. Rodriguez,” Estela adds. “She’s a wonderful professional and a very good doctor.”

 

Goodbye Leg Pain

Laser energy repairs damaged veins.

Washington, DC native Albert* owned construction businesses in Maryland and New Hampshire, but he wound up retiring from AT&T in 1989. Seven years later, he moved to Florida, where his spinal discs began to collapse and place pressure on his spinal cord and nerves.

To ease the resulting pain, Albert tried a number of treatments, including physical therapy and surgery. The pain, however, outlasted all attempts to relieve it.

“I had several treatments on my back, including two surgeries by a spine surgeon, and still had pain,” Albert confirms. “I was going to my family doctor, and he referred me to a specialist who began treating me for the pain in my back.”

The specialist Albert’s doctor referred him to is Kai McGreevy, MD, a board-certified neurologist and pain management specialist at McGreevy NeuroHealth in St. Augustine. Dr. McGreevy uses a variety of techniques to relieve his patients’ pain.

During their initial consultation, Dr. McGreevy learned from Albert that in addition to his back pain, he was also experiencing heaviness in his legs, an issue that can be the result of problems with the spine. Upon further inspection, however, Dr. McGreevy found that Albert’s legs were also discolored and that he’d been experiencing swelling, fatigue
and cramping.

“When Dr. McGreevy first noticed my legs, he said, “They don’t look good,” Albert recalls. “He mentioned the discoloration and told me, That’s not a tan. It’s a circulation problem. Your legs are holding blood. He told me I had varicose veins, which surprised me because I didn’t have any bulging veins on my legs at all.

“My ankles swelled, particularly in the morning when I woke up and started walking, but as the day went on, I really didn’t notice it as much. I guess with activity, my blood started circulating in my legs. But when I would lie down in bed at night, the swelling would build up. I also had cramps in my legs, but it wasn’t a continuous problem.”

As part of the body’s circulatory system, leg veins have the job of pumping blood upward, against gravity, toward the heart. They get help from the power of leg muscle contractions. To further assist with this task, there are a series of one-way valves in leg veins that keep the blood from flowing in reverse, or refluxing.

“With age, heredity or long hours of sitting or standing, these valves can weaken, and blood can flow backward and collect in the legs and ankles, causing symptoms,” Dr. McGreevy describes. “This condition is called venous insufficiency.”

To diagnose venous insufficiency, Dr. McGreevy performs a Doppler venous ultrasound examination that allows him to see the flow of blood from the legs toward the heart. In Albert’s case, the simple, noninvasive exam revealed significant venous insufficiency in both legs.

Dr. McGreevy responded by recommending that Albert wear compression stockings for about four weeks to help eliminate the swelling and heaviness in his legs. The stockings had little effect, however. At that point, Dr. McGreevy knew a new course of action was necessary.

“I sat down with Albert and discussed his entire scenario with him,” the doctor notes. “We developed a game plan for his leg veins.”

Symptom Reliever

The treatment plan for Albert’s legs included a procedure called endovenous laser ablation, or EVLA, during which the doctor introduces a sterile laser fiber into the problematic vein via a tiny puncture in the leg.

“My right leg cleared up miraculously. It was very clear and had lightened up considerably compared to the leg Dr. McGreevy hadn’t treated yet.” – Albert

During EVLA, laser energy is delivered through this fiber, gently collapsing and sealing the vein. Blood flow from the sealed vein then reroutes through other, healthy veins in the leg, which reduces the impact of venous insufficiency on the patient.

“EVLA relieves the symptoms, including pain, swelling, fatigue, itching and weakness,” Dr. McGreevy informs. “It also improves the aesthetics of the legs, reducing any discoloration and breakdown of the skin, as well as the appearance of varicose and spider veins.”

Albert describes the procedure as painless.

“After rubbing my skin with a solution to deaden the pain, a technologist put needles in my leg,” he explains. “He had a scope that traced the vein Dr. McGreevy wanted to block off, then he injected it with numbing medicine.

“After that, Dr. McGreevy came in and performed the laser treatment. There was a little bit of a burning sensation, but it was bearable. Afterward, they wrapped my leg in ACE Bandages. I had the treatment on a Thursday and had to keep the ACE Bandages on with compression until Sunday, then I could take the bandages off.”

Dr. McGreevy performed EVLA on the greater saphenous veins in both of Albert’s legs. The result, the doctor says, was an almost immediate and quite significant improvement in the condition of Albert’s legs.

“Sometimes when we perform EVLA, it takes a little while for the results to be fully realized by patients,” Dr. McGreevy says. “In Albert’s case, however, he had a very quick response. Within a week of performing EVLA on his right greater saphenous vein, he indicated he already started to feel a difference in his right leg. He was pretty amazed by that and eventually had reduced discomfort in his legs with less fatigue, swelling and cramping.”

Prevalent Problem

Venous insufficiency is a very common condition. It is estimated that more than 30 million Americans suffer with symptomatic venous insufficiency. Venous vascular disease is five times as prevalent as peripheral arterial disease, or PAD, and more than two times as prevalent as coronary artery disease.

Symptoms of venous insufficiency include pain, aching, swelling, heaviness, nighttime cramps, restless legs, discoloration and, in later stages, skin ulceration, but it’s “hugely underdiagnosed,” according to Dr. McGreevy, who notes that symptoms are often attributed to other disorders.

“Symptoms of venous insufficiency, the things that can be felt by the patient, can result in sensory changes such as numbness, tingling, weakness and fatigue,” he states. “These are all things patients describe to me every day when I examine them and perform nerve conduction studies.

“These symptoms may appear to be neurological at first glance, but there’s no perfect box they fit into, so I don’t make assumptions that they’re caused by nerve injury. If I test and discover these symptoms are not nerve related, they can be generated from multiple sources.

“If these symptoms are accompanied by visible signs such as swelling in the legs, I look at other possible sources. I have to rule out a cardiac condition such as heart failure, as well as a liver condition, protein imbalance and other disorders that can lead to leg swelling.”

In the absence of those sources, Dr. McGreevy continues, there’s a high index of suspicion for venous insufficiency, the treatments for which are generally covered by insurance. They’re covered not just for pain relief, but also for prevention because there are complications that can occur later in life that are very expensive to treat.

Double Trouble

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania native Robert Vamos spent years working in the supply end of the automotive industry in Michigan before relocating to Florida, where he started a second career in real estate in 2012.

It wasn’t long, though, before showing properties became uncomfortable for Robert, who soon after making the move to Florida began to experience an ever-increasing degree of numbness and aching in his feet and legs.

“I contracted a disease from Type 2 diabetes called Charcot foot syndrome, which is a type of neuropathy, or loss of sensation, in my legs and feet,” Robert explains. “As a result, I lost the arch in my right foot. And for some reason, my legs always ached terribly after that.

“My podiatrist referred me to Dr. McGreevy. He ran a bunch of tests on me and determined that the nerves in my lower back, at my L4 and L5 lumbar vertebrae, were pinched. I wasn’t having any pain in my back, just a little stiffness maybe, but Dr. McGreevy said the pinched nerves were contributing to the aching pain in my legs.”

In treating Robert, Dr. McGreevy recommended a nonsurgical procedure called radiofrequency ablation, which uses radio waves to produce heat that is delivered through a probe to the target spinal nerves.

In Robert’s case, the target was the nerves exiting the spinal cord near the vertebrae of his lower back. The heat from the probe creates a spot on the nerves that impedes the transmission of pain signals to the brain. This reduces discomfort from the affected area of the spine.

“Dr. McGreevy said he hoped to avoid surgery for me, and he wanted to try the radiofrequency procedure to put the pinched nerves to sleep,” Robert confirms. “He said the pain relief would last from six months to two years. For me, it lasted a year and a half. Just recently, my legs started hurting again, and he gave me a second radiofrequency treatment.

“This time, however, he noticed a varicose bump on my right leg and didn’t like the way it looked. He said, I’ve done artery studies and nerve studies, so let’s do a vein study. He did and found that the veins in both of my legs weren’t working properly. He also detected swelling in my ankles, which he said would have been worse if I wasn’t swimming a mile every day.”

Diagnosis and Treatment

After seeing some of the visible signs of venous insufficiency in Robert and learning that he was also experiencing aching and heaviness in his legs, Dr. McGreevy performed a Doppler venous ultrasound examination that allowed him to see the flow of blood from Robert’s legs toward his heart.

“I feel great right now. I no longer have any of that aching pain in my legs.”
– Robert

That simple, noninvasive exam revealed what Dr. McGreevy described as “significant reflux” in Robert’s legs. As he did with John, he then suggested correcting the problem by performing EVLA.

Robert says he has a very strong will, and as a result, he refused to let any of the symptoms caused by his venous insufficiency alter his active lifestyle. As soon as the EVLA treatment was completed, however, he realized how easy it was to relieve the pain and discomfort associated with the venous disease.

“Dr. McGreevy did the procedure right in his office, and there was very little discomfort associated with it,” Robert verifies. “I could have walked right out of his office and gone to the golf course. I didn’t need to take any pain medication or anything like that. Afterward, I had to wear compression stockings for a couple of weeks, but that was it.”

Miraculously Successful

Photo by Nerissa Johnson.

Free of leg pain, Robert can walk Layla again

Robert and Albert were already seeing Dr. McGreevy for pain management when their venous insufficiency was detected. The aching pain in Robert’s legs had two contributing factors – his varicose veins and the pinched nerves in his back. Dr. McGreevy treated both factors, and Robert responded positively. His pain was alleviated, and the swelling in his legs dissipated.

“I feel great right now,” Robert enthuses. “I no longer have any of that aching pain in my legs. I achieved really good results. But, I had both the radiofrequency ablation and my veins treated at the same time, so if you ask me which treatment helped me more, I couldn’t tell you.

“I just know the combination of the two really helped. Dr. McGreevy told me the radiofrequency ablation can be repeated if necessary, but the results of the vein treatment will last forever.”

Albert’s right leg didn’t look much better the Sunday after he had the first EVLA treatment, but it did by the following week, when he returned to McGreevy NeuroHealth to have the treatment on his left leg.

“My right leg cleared up miraculously,” Albert raves. “It was very clear and had lightened up considerably compared to the leg Dr. McGreevy hadn’t treated yet. When I first went into the office, the receptionist said, Look what happened here. I walked into the little staff area, and everybody looked at my right leg and said, Wow!

“I looked at my leg and said, Gee, I really did have a problem. I didn’t know the problem with heaviness in my legs was that bad, but since I had the procedures on my varicose veins, my legs are a lot lighter and I can walk much better. I must have gotten used to the heaviness. I don’t have the swelling anymore, either.

“And all this time, Dr. McGreevy is still treating my back pain.”

Robert and Albert are impressed with Dr. McGreevy and his staff at McGreevy NeuroHealth. They find the neurologist to be knowledgeable, kind, understanding and worthy of their trust.

“Dr. McGreevy is a wonderful doctor,” Robert states. “He’s very gentle, and he explains everything he’s doing as he goes along. He’s a pain specialist, and as people get older, a lot of us get different kinds of pain in our bodies that Dr. McGreevy can treat. I recommend him to anybody, and I already have to numerous people.”

“Over the years, I had a knee replacement and a broken ankle that was due to my back and loss of balance,” Albert adds. “I went to physical therapy for both of those conditions. Nobody noticed I had a problem with my leg veins except Dr. McGreevy.

“My EVLA procedures were absolutely – in capital letters – successful. I recommend EVLA for varicose veins, and I recommend McGreevy NeuroHealth and Dr. McGreevy.

*The patients name was changed to protect his privacy.

Avoid Back Surgery!

Pain-free spinal decompression therapy relieves debilitating lower back pain.

Photos by Jordan Pysz.

Denise Moxon

Denise Moxon, 65, is a retired registered nurse who stays fit by engaging in a variety of activities that include the challenging horse-riding discipline called dressage, yoga and weight training.

Looking after her barn and horses requires physically demanding chores, but that never fazed her. That is until the day her back went out when she was shoveling dirt.

The intense pain started in her lower back and radiated into her right thigh. At first, Denise thought rest would make it go away, so she stopped exercising and riding her horses.

When the pain remained, Denise looked for remedies with two priorities in mind: She wanted to avoid surgery and narcotic pain medications. Over four months, she tried physical therapy, massage, steroid injections and acupuncture.

“I did all of these things just trying to get out of pain and thinking time would take care of it,” she recalls. “But it kept getting worse and worse until I couldn’t even walk my dog for a short distance. Physical therapy did not help, and massage did not help. The acupuncture alleviated the pain, but it wasn’t a cure. I’d be pain free, but then I’d need acupuncture again.

“By the sixth month, I couldn’t tolerate it any longer. I was beginning to believe that surgery was the only thing that could help me.”

Denise consulted a neurosurgeon, who ordered an MRI. The imaging study revealed two herniated discs in her lower spine. She agreed with her physician they needed surgical repair.

Due to the busy surgeon’s schedule, the operation couldn’t be performed for three months. Denise was resolved to suffering until then.

Shortly after scheduling the surgery, however, she learned about Tyler Albrecht, DC, at St. Augustine Spine Center. She was intrigued by a therapy that Dr. Albrecht uses to treat herniated and bulging discs called nonsurgical spinal decompression.

Wanting to learn more, Denise made an appointment to consult with Dr. Albrecht.

Time to Decompres

“When Denise came to us, she was in really bad shape,” states Dr. Albrecht. “She could only walk or stand two minutes before the pain would become severe. She couldn’t do any bending or lifting, and the pain was interrupting her sleep.”

Denise’s herniated discs were causing spinal stenosis, a condition that causes narrowing of the space for the spinal cord. This narrowing puts pressure on the spinal cord or spinal nerves, causing pain.

“It was a long road because I tried so many things. I’m really pleased with my treatment by Dr. Albrecht. It’s pretty impressive.”- Denise

Through his examination of Denise, Dr. Albrecht determined she was a candidate for nonsurgical spinal decompression. The therapy works to restore herniated or bulging discs to a healthier state, thus relieving the pain.

“What I’ve found is that spinal decompression is usually the best treatment for a herniated disc because it helps to reverse the pressure on the disc and allows the disc to heal rather than just trying to cover up the pain with injections or medication,” notes Dr. Albrecht.

Our decompression table does this by gently pulling the two vertebrae on either side of the affected disc, producing a vacuum effect. This allows bulging material and nutrients to be drawn back into the disc over time, allowing it to heal naturally. Advanced technology and computerized load sensors combine to create a gentle, pain-free treatment that avoids the muscle spasm or guarding reflex that is commonly triggered with rudimentary traction or inversion devices.”

Denise liked how Dr. Albrecht explained the process clearly and comprehensively.

“Dr. Albrecht is very articulate and knowledgeable,’’ she describes. “He’s informative and factual. The result was that I could make the decision on my own about whether to pursue treatment. He didn’t try to make the decision for me, which I appreciate in a doctor.”

Denise began a seven-week treatment regimen with three sessions of spinal decompression each week. In addition, she was treated with a combination of other modalities that are part of the disc rehabilitation program at St. Augustine Spine Center. They included manual therapy, chiropractic care, ice, electrical stimulation and laser therapy to help speed the healing process.

A Full Recovery

Photos by Jordan Pysz.

Denise is back in the saddle now that her back pain is gone.

The therapy sessions were pleasant experiences, Denise relates.

“The atmosphere in Dr. Albrecht’s office is lovely and peaceful,” she says. “And the decompression treatments were very comfortable and easy to do. They’re pain free. You can watch videos while you’re lying on the decompression table, which I did a lot, and it’s restful.”

Halfway through her treatment program, Denise discovered how much spinal decompression was helping. She went to a boat show with her husband and was stunned to realize that walking didn’t hurt anymore.

“We were walking around and after about forty-five  minutes, I stopped and said, Art, I have no pain,” remembers Denise. “Before, I would go places, even though it hurt to walk, because I’m an active person. I would walk, hurt, sit; walk, hurt, sit.

“At the boat show, it suddenly dawned on me that I had been walking for forty-five minutes and hadn’t needed to sit down because I wasn’t hurting.”

Before her first visit with Dr. Albrecht, Denise says her average pain level was six on a scale of one to ten. By the end of treatment, she says, it had dropped to zero.

Dr. Albrecht uses another feedback measure, the Low Back Pain and Disability Index, to gauge results. The questionnaire focuses on how much back pain interferes with daily activities.

“When we started out, Denise was at sixty-six percent on how much the pain was disabling her,” states Dr. Albrecht. “When we finished, she was down to zero percent – she experienced a full recovery.”

That full recovery allowed Denise to resume her fully active lifestyle. After following a regimen of stretches and exercises to strengthen her core, she is once again riding five days a week and continues to improve her dressage skills.

She’s also back doing yoga and weight training and has added golf to her long list of hobbies. What Denise is most happy about, though, is that she succeeded in finding a treatment that took away her severe back pain without surgery or drugs.

Once she felt certain that spinal decompression had given her long-lasting relief, Denise canceled her surgery date.

“It was a long road because I tried so many things,” she relates. “I’m really pleased with my treatment by Dr. Albrecht. It’s pretty impressive.”

Most Common Car Accident Injuries

December 2nd, 2019

Most Common Car Accident InjuriesThe most recent available data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration revealed that in 2016, there were 7,277,000 auto accidents in the U.S. That breaks down to an average of 19,937 accidents each day, which does not include the countless accidents that went unreported. Being involved in an auto accident can be a traumatizing event with many opportunities for disaster. You could be facing property damage, serious injuries, wage losses, hospital fees, emotional damages, and more. The most important asset to take care of after an accident is yourself.

Since injuries are not always immediately apparent and may not be until after your injuries have worsened, it’s imperative to get yourself checked out immediately after you’ve been in an accident. You only have 14 days from the date of the accident to seek medical attention in order to be covered under your auto insurance’s personal injury protection policy. Even if you feel fine, schedule an appointment with your local auto accident doctor to make sure you don’t have any underlying injuries that will need medical attention. Here are some common bodily injuries that we frequently see as the result of an accident.

Soft Tissue InjurySoft Tissue Injury

Soft tissue injuries are those that involve injuries to tendons, muscles, and ligaments. They most commonly seen in those who play sports, but can also be the result of a high impact car wreck. They can include:

  • Bursitis – The painful condition that includes swelling, or irritation of the bursae (the small, fluid-filled sac located by the joints) that usually occurs in the shoulder, knee, elbow, or hip.
  • Contusions – Areas of the skin or underlying tissue where blood capillaries have ruptured. Also called a bruise, these injuries can happen when your body is hit with blunt force by another object, or vice versa.
  • Sprains – The damage or tearing of a ligament or ligaments surrounding a joint. Sprains usually occur when a joint has been taken beyond its normal range of movement.
  • Strains – Injuries to the muscle or tendon caused by overuse, stretching, or force.
  • Tendonitis – Irritation or inflammation of the tendon. In an auto accident injury, this might be caused by sudden or direct force applied to the area of concern.

WhiplashWhiplash

Whiplash is a neck injury that can occur when the neck is forced to move forward and backward in a quick motion, like the cracking of a whip. It usually occurs during rear-end collisions, but can be a result of other types of collisions as well. Symptoms of whiplash include pain and swelling of the neck and shoulders. In some instances, physical therapy or neck injections may be required for persistent pain, so it’s important to get yourself checked out right away.

Spinal Cord InjurySpinal Cord Injury

The Mayo Clinic reported that car accidents account for nearly 50% of all reported spinal cord injuries. A spinal cord injury results from damage to the spinal cord or to the ligaments, discs, or vertebrae of the spinal column. A car accident can cause a sudden, traumatic blow to the spine that can crush, compress, dislocate, or fracture the vertebrae. Additional injury can occur in the days or weeks following the accident due to inflammation, swelling, fluid accumulation, and bleeding around the spinal cord. Spinal cord injuries can include:

  • Claudication – A common symptom of lumbar spinal stenosis, causing inflammation of the nerves emerging from the spinal cord.
  • Bulging, Degenerating, or Herniated Discs – A condition where the soft center of a spinal disk pushes through a crack in the tougher exterior casing. It can irritate nearby nerves and result in pain, numbness, or weakness in an arm or leg.
  • Sciatica – Pain radiating along the sciatic nerve, which runs down one or both legs from the lower back. It’s primarily caused when a herniated disk or bone spur in the spine presses on the nerve. It usually only affects one side of the body.

Seat Belt SyndromeSeat Belt Syndrome

Wearing your seat belt is one of the most important decisions you can make when getting into a vehicle. It can save your life and prevent further debilitating injuries in the event of an accident. However, that doesn’t mean wearing one will leave you without injury. Medical professionals have coined the term “seat belt syndrome” to include a handful of common injuries that occur in accidents from the seat belt itself. The abdomen, chest, neck, and spine are the areas of the body that are primarily affected by seat belt syndrome.

  • Abdomen – The stomach, small and large intestines, liver, spleen, and pancreas often experience bruising or tearing.
  • Chest – Bruising, lacerations, and rashes from the belt can be clearly visible and painful. The belt can also cause rib and sternum fractures, damage to the lungs and trachea, connective tissue and cartilage tearing, damage to the chest wall, and heart contusions.
  • Spine & Neck – Spinal injuries are the most common since the spine is the shock absorber for the body. Injuries can include fractures, paralysis, damage to facet joints, and damaged discs.

Many injuries can also occur because seat belts are not being worn or faceted correctly. The concept of the belt is to keep the body aligned and sitting up straight so any potential blow or force would be distributed evenly across the body. Always wear your seat belt, and wear it correctly.

Airbag InjuryAirbag Injury

Similar to the primary function of a seat belt, the deployment of an airbag is to ensure the damage during a collision is lessened and your body does not receive the full force of the blow. However, you can still experience additional injuries because of an airbag. Depending on the speed you and the other driver were going at the time of the crash, as well as the trajectory of each vehicle in relation to one another, you may experience:

  • Whiplash from the force of the bag against your head and neck
  • Damage to your eyes if they remained open while the airbag deployed
  • Broken or fractured nose
  • Irritation to eyes and skin from chemicals and dust on the airbag
  • Other injuries due to the airbag’s deployment

Every injury is different. The best way to handle any injuries you’ve sustained is to begin the healing process with the best treatments for each injury. If you’ve been in a car accident, it’s imperative that you seek medical treatment immediately to ensure your body is functioning properly and no injuries go undetected for any period of time.

Preferred Injury Physicians

Travis Utter, DC, earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in communications from the University of Central Florida in Orlando and a Doctor of Chiropractic degree from Palmer College of Chiropractic. He received additional training in NCV/EMG from the Neurodiagnostics Institute and in whiplash and accident reconstruction from the Spine Research Institute of San Diego. Dr. Utter is certified in whiplash and accident reconstruction.

To Each Her Own

Cardiovascular surgeon relies on experience to create treatment plan.

Following a divorce, stay-at-home mom Mollie* suddenly realized she needed to earn a living to support her family. She went back to school and earned a degree in psychology with the aim of becoming a counselor. But upon graduation, Mollie discovered counselors were plentiful and counseling jobs were scarce, so she went back to the drawing board.

“I went into nursing and got a Bachelor’s degree in nursing,” Mollie relates. “That’s what I did for the rest of my working career, and I did various types of nursing. I was a telephone triage nurse, and I worked in nursing homes. I worked in hospital settings and ended my nursing career in home care.

“I retired from nursing when I was seventy years old. Now, at seventy-three, I’ve taken up painting, and I can’t put it down. I haven’t taken any classes, but I just love it. If I see something I want to paint, I just do it.”

Nursing may have paid the bills and painting may occupy her retirement hours, but Mollie has always been a dancer at heart. For ten years, she owned a dance studio where she taught ballet and classical jazz.

She performed on occasion as well, and she’s convinced that all the time she spent dancing, leaping and pounding on hard surfaces since she was a young girl led to the distressing condition she developed as an adult – restless legs syndrome.

“My father, mother and sister were the only other people I knew who had restless legs,” Mollie shares. “But back in those days, no one knew what it was. We called it the jimjams, and we asked all our relatives, Have you ever had anything like this? But they told us, No, nothing like that.

“I didn’t have restless legs growing up. They started after I had children. At first, they occurred just at night when I sat down to relax for the evening. I learned to get up and move around because movement warded them off. Then, they started occurring in the morning and afternoon as well. It didn’t matter what time of day it was.

“More recently, I got terrible restless legs in the afternoon. They would start up and last for hours. I would roll around on the floor, screaming and crying. It felt like little worms were crawling up and down inside my legs, and I had to move them. I couldn’t sit still.”

Mollie’s case of restless legs syndrome was severe, and by the time she was 73, she had taken medication for the condition for more than 30 years. But the medication was failing to curb her symptoms and had drawbacks of its own, so Mollie sought treatment alternatives.

“I wanted to get off the medication because it has terrible side effects,” Mollie elaborates. “I tried everything, then a friend told me about Dr. Sharma and encouraged me to visit him and ask if he could do anything about restless legs, so I did.”

Ravi Sharma, MD, is a board-certified cardiovascular surgeon with expertise in blood vessel disorders affecting the legs. His practice is Premier Vein Centers, which has offices in Homosassa and The Villages®.

Dr. Sharma ordered an ultrasound examination of Mollie’s legs that showed a number of her leg veins were leaking and not enabling proper blood flow toward her heart, a condition called venous insufficiency. That happens to be a root cause of restless legs syndrome.

Venous insufficiency can be treated through a number of minimally invasive vein closure techniques. Dr. Sharma relies on his many years of experience when determining which technique to use for each patient to achieve the best outcome.

Mollie liked Dr. Sharma right off the bat. She was impressed by his knowledge and experience and by the compassionate way he treated her. She was also impressed by his honesty.

“Dr. Sharma was very personable and interested in me, and he didn’t rush me through our appointments,” Mollie recalls. “He was very upfront with me as well. He said, I have treated people with restless legs, but I can’t guarantee treatment will help with your severe condition. But I said, I’m willing to try anything if you are.

At the core of Mollie’s problem was the intricate series of blood vessels that make up the human circulatory system. Veins are the blood vessels that return oxygen-depleted blood back to the heart. There are three types of veins: superficial veins, deep veins and perforator veins. Superficial veins lie close to the skin, deep veins lie in groups of muscles, and perforator veins connect the superficial veins to the deep veins.

“Venous insufficiency occurs when the deep leg veins cannot pump blood back to the heart,” Dr. Sharma describes. “Chronic venous insufficiency has multiple causes. Over long periods of sitting or standing, the blood in leg veins can pool. This increases the venous blood pressure and weakens the vein walls and valves, thereby damaging the valves. Damaged valves prevent proper blood flow back to the heart.”

“I thought Dr. Sharma was a miracle worker because after my treatment was completed, I didn’t have restless legs anymore.” – Mollie

There are many signs and symptoms of venous insufficiency. Signs are the issues that can be seen, such as bulging varicose veins, swelling, and thickening and discoloration of the skin of the ankles or legs. Symptoms are those things that are felt, not seen. They include throbbing, aching, stinging, burning, itching, nighttime leg cramps and restless legs. These are all indications that the veins are not functioning properly.

“For patients who experience any of these signs or symptoms, it is important that they have their veins assessed,” Dr. Sharma emphasizes. “Leaving the condition untreated can lead to more serious difficulties, including leg ulcers, infection and a breakdown of the skin.

When seeking a physician for care, it is crucially important for people to choose surgeons who specialize in venous diseases. The physicians should also be experienced in the advanced procedures available to treat these diseases. In addition, they must also express genuine concern and compassion for their patients. Physicians with these qualifications achieve the best outcomes.”

Advanced Options

At Premier Vein Centers, a full range of advanced, minimally invasive treatment options for addressing varicose and spider veins are available. These treatment options include microphlebectomy, endovenous laser ablation (EVLA), sclerosing injections and VenaSeal.

Microphlebectomy has replaced stripping, an outdated, more invasive procedure during which doctors removed the large veins by making big gashes across the leg that often left the patient with large scars.

“With microphlebectomy, the incision is tiny – about the size of the tip of a scalpel – and we can do much more through that small incision,” Dr. Sharma informs. “And with this procedure, patients end up with tiny marks on the skin or no scars at all.”

During EVLA, a sterile laser fiber is introduced into the incompetent vein via a small puncture in the leg. Laser energy is then delivered through the fiber, painlessly closing the vein in less than an hour, using local anesthesia.

Sclerosing injections are used to treat spider veins, which are tiny, dilated blood vessels in the skin that become swollen with stagnant blood. Dr. Sharma uses ultrasound-guided sclerotherapy (UGS) to guide the injections that gently close the problem vessels.

VenaSeal is a non-thermal closure system that relieves symptoms by delivering a small amount of a specially formulated medical adhesive, or “super glue,” to the diseased vein. This permanently seals the vein. This procedure does not require multiple needle sticks and, in some cases, support stockings are not necessary.

Dr. Sharma uses his expertise to determine which procedures to use based on each patient’s symptoms and health status. These advanced treatments are all performed in a comfortable office setting and result in little or no downtime and discomfort.

“Our patients are often very relieved to discover that there is no general anesthesia involved in our minimally invasive treatments,” Dr. Sharma notes. “And they are happy to learn that they can resume activities right away.”

Premier Vein Centers provides a free initial consultation and accepts most insurance, including Medicare.

Miracle Worker

Using the ultrasound results as a guide, Dr. Sharma created a treatment plan to address Mollie’s restless legs syndrome. With his experience, he knew right away that EVLA was the best method of closure for Mollie’s leaking leg veins. Mollie was amazed by the treatment’s initial outcome.

“Dr. Sharma performed six painless laser procedures on my legs,” Mollie recalls. “He explained to me that he sealed off the bad veins that were pooling blood, and eventually, my body rerouted the blood flow through good veins.

“I thought Dr. Sharma was a miracle worker because after my treatment was completed, I didn’t have restless legs anymore. I thought, Surely, it isn’t this easy. I should have done this years ago.”

“Dr. Sharma adds, “Ms. Mollie followed all of the post-treatment instructions, which is also important in achieving the best outcome.”

*Patient’s name withheld at her request.

 

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