Author Archive

No More Movement

Rocking dentures resolved with dental implants.

For more than a year, Kevin Kovitz battled a chronic sinus infection that left him feeling miserable. His doctor prescribed a series of antibiotics, but none were totally effective at eliminating his discomfort. Finally, his doctor said, Kevin, I think you need to see a dentist.

Photo by Jordan Pysz.

Even the temporary dentures make Kevin and his wife, Laurie, smile.

Kevin, a native of South Georgia, had delayed regular dental visits when he moved to Florida to care for his elderly mother. He put on hold this one as well. However, the infection in Kevin’s head deepened, and the pain became excruciating.
“I had a couple of bad teeth on the top and a couple on the bottom. I was getting ready to do some dental work in Georgia when my father passed and I relocated to Sarasota to take care of my mother,” shares Kevin. “I put off my teeth for two years.
“Then, one Saturday in March, I was in so much pain I thought I was going to die. The pain was mostly in my gums and jaw. I said to my wife, I’m feeling really bad. I think I need to go to the hospital or an emergency dentist. I had a magnet on the refrigerator for an emergency dental practice; it was Siesta Dental.”
Siesta Dental is the practice of an experienced and accomplished dentist, Alexander Gaukhman, DMD. In addition to emergency services, Dr. Gaukhman provides quality general, cosmetic and restorative dentistry to patients at his offices in Sarasota, Venice and Osprey.
Kevin immediately called and made an appointment with Dr. Gaukhman. By the time he arrived at Siesta Dental, however, the pain had literally immobilized him.
“I felt so bad I actually laid down on the sidewalk in front of Dr. Gaukhman’s office,” he remembers. “Two women who work there came to check on me. They probably thought I was homeless or dead because I was just lying on the concrete. Dr. Gaukhman came out and asked me if I needed help, so he helped me get up and into the dental chair.
“Dr. Gaukhman told me what I thought were sinus infections were actually abscessed teeth, and I had a lot of infection in my mouth. He said it had been kind of a domino effect over time; my bad teeth infected the teeth that were okay. That day I had the first oral surgery. Dr. Gaukhman removed eighteen abscessed teeth.”
The dentist, with Kevin’s input, developed an extensive treatment plan. Dr. Gaukhman recommended full upper and lower dentures, with the lower denture securely anchored by dental implants.
“When I first met Kevin, he had significant infection in his gums and bone due to periodontal disease. This condition is still incurable, so the only way to eliminate the infection is to extract the infected teeth, which I did,” describes
Dr. Gaukhman. “I suggested he replace them with dentures.”
Kevin agreed with the recommendation and had a second oral surgery to remove his remaining teeth. Dr. Gaukhman took impressions of his mouth, and by the time Kevin was sedated and his teeth were removed, the denture was fabricated. Dr. Gaukhman installed it immediately.
When it was time to approve Dr. Gaukhman’s recommended treatment plan, Kevin considered all of his options. He’s glad he opted for an implant-retained lower denture.
“My wife and I decided if I was going to do dentures, why not do it right,” he notes. “When I’m done, I’ll have a traditional denture on the top, which
Dr. Gaukhman recommended because people don’t have problems with upper dentures. The bottoms are the issue,” relates Kevin. “He told me when you eat, lower dentures can start rocking and moving. I’ve got friends with dentures, and they agree the bottoms are a problem.
“We decided to put two implants in my bottom eyeteeth. Eventually,
Dr. Gaukhman will put magnets on the tops of those implants. The denture will click into place over the implants, and I won’t have to use adhesive at all.”

Natural Replacement

Dentures are often used to replace natural teeth that have been lost due to tooth decay, gum disease or injury. In most cases, upper dentures fit securely because the palate enables the creation of sufficient suction to hold the appliance in place.
“Lower dentures are often more difficult to keep stable. This is because there is no palate in the bottom jaw, due to the location of the tongue, and less suction is produced,” explains Dr. Gaukhman. “Securing a lower denture with dental implants is the most effective way to stabilize it. I recommended two implants to secure Kevin’s lower denture.”
Dental implants are surgically placed into the jawbone and serve as the foundation for replacement teeth, a denture in Kevin’s case. Implants are made of a titanium alloy that fuses with the patient’s bone to become a solid unit. When they’re secured by implants, the dentures don’t rock or move; they stay in place when wearers speak and eat.
At Siesta Dental, implants are often placed on the day of tooth extraction. The dentures are also created at that time.
“Once the patient’s problem is diagnosed and the treatment is determined, I take the impressions,” states Dr. Gaukhman. “When the dentures are ready, which is usually on the same day or the next day, I extract the teeth and put the dentures in right away. The dentures act like a bandage. They stop bleeding and limit swelling.
“For the next three to six months, I keep the patients in temporary dentures until the implants fuse and the gums heal. Then, I replace the temporary dentures with the permanent appliances.”
“Right now, I have temporary dentures with soft liners, which are great. I can’t even tell I’ve got them in my mouth,” reports Kevin. “The dental implant posts are in my jaw and they’re healing. Once they’re totally healed, Dr. Gaukhman will finish the implants and make the permanent dentures.”

Healthy Process

“I’m definitely pleased with Dr. Gaukhman’s process thus far. I highly recommend implant-retained dentures to anyone who has issues with their teeth.”
The treatment provided by the staff at Siesta Dental impressed Kevin. In addition to their regular dental care, the team also explained to him that his extensive infection could affect him elsewhere in his body. They suggested testing for a potentially deadly cardiac condition.
“Dr. Gaukhman also told me I should get my heart checked because all the infection in my mouth could have caused permanent damage to it,” comments Kevin. “I had my heart checked and I have no damage. Dr. Gaukhman and his staff at Siesta Dental saved my life that Saturday morning.”
Kevin’s care is ongoing, and he’s looking forward to the next few months. Then, his implants will be healed and he’ll get his permanent dentures. Still, he’s pleased with the work Dr. Gaukhman and his staff have already completed.
“I’m totally happy with my treatment,” he says. “Everyone at Siesta Dental is great. The staff is great. Dr. Gaukhman is amazing and a super dentist. He’s very gifted with his hands. I would recommend them to anybody!”

Managing Dementia

Keeping seniors active and engaged

Cyrilla Sroka was born in 1917 in a small town in Massachusetts, where she lived for most of her adult life. Today, she lives at Symphony at
St. Augustine, a new community designed exclusively for seniors with Alzheimer’s disease, memory loss and other forms of dementia. In October, Cyrilla will celebrate her 100th birthday with her friends there.

Photos by Nerissa Johnson.

Cyrilla takes
a break in her
painting to have a chat with
Anna Tenorio.

Cyrilla had always been a strong, independent woman. However, when she got into her 90s, her daughter, Linda Chambless, who lives in Florida, wanted Cyrilla to leave Massachusetts and move closer to her.
“I finally convinced her to move to Florida in 2009 because she was ninety-
two and living alone in her home,” shares Linda. “I told her she needed to sell the house and move down here so we would be close.”
Initially, Cyrilla moved into an assisted living facility and functioned at a very independent level. Using a walker, she had excellent mobility, and participated in many of the facility’s activities. Then, she fell, spent time in the hospital and went through rehabilitation.
“By the time Mom went through all that, she was not able to recover the strength she had prior to the fall,” describes Linda. “Her physical stamina did not return, and her mental stamina, her cognition, had deteriorated as well.
“I explored several options before selecting Symphony at St. Augustine. But from the first time I met the people there, I felt they were extremely knowledgeable, which impressed me. Another thing that stood out about Symphony is that everyone on staff is incredibly kind and caring, but most of all patient.”

Safe and Secure

Ginny Kaye is a nurse and works long hours, so sometimes her mom, June Kline, who was living with her, would stay at home alone. For years, June was fine on her own; however, Ginny started to worry when her mom began exhibiting some strange behavior.
“My mom started becoming confused. She put the laundry soap pods in the dryer and the dryer sheets in the washer,” describes Ginny. “She wasn’t sure how to lock the door and was having trouble getting dressed in the morning. She didn’t like showering or taking care of herself, and she couldn’t cook a dinner for herself in the microwave.
“She continued to decline and then had a couple of falls. Her last fall was the ultimate driving force behind making a change. She called me on the phone and told me she was working in the office on paperwork, but she had been on the ground close to six hours.”
Ginny knew it was no longer safe for June to stay at her house when Ginny was not able to be there. Ginny thought June would get along in an assisted living arrangement. However, June wandered away from that facility and couldn’t tell police where she lived. Ginny then realized her mom needed additional care.
“I started looking for a community where Mom would be safe and still be active. Lo and behold, I found Symphony at St. Augustine,” she describes. “I was so excited when I saw the facility and met with the team. Symphony is different, not because it is new, but because the staff is highly involved in interactive activities with the residents. I wanted my mom to engage in daily activities.
“The activities director keeps the residents’ days packed, from eight in the morning until four in the afternoon. They have music sessions and people playing guitar. There are calming activities, and in the afternoon, they play Bingo and have prizes. They have sing-alongs, and Mom engages in that, as well as arts and crafts activities. Mom made a beautiful dream catcher and hung it on the door to her room.”

Active Program

Symphony at St. Augustine offers a variety of opportunities as part of their memory care activities program. These include social events, group outings, art therapy and various entertainment sessions.

Photos by Nerissa Johnson.

Daughter Ginny visits June while stylist Aly Bradshaw does her hair.

“We have guest speakers, an intergenerational exchange and spiritual events,” states Anna Tenorio, memory support director. “Part of my role is to ensure all residents take part in meaningful activities and stay busy and engaged, but all staff are involved in keeping residents active.”
The memory care activities program incorporates daily living routines into the planned activities. This enables residents with early- to mid-stage Alzheimer’s and other related dementias to function at their highest potential and improve their well-being.
“Along with promoting individual life victories, this program offers stimulating and educational group activities,” notes Anna. “We also use our signature approach to memory care, which is called In the Moment®. It is designed to help residents feel engaged and valued throughout the day.”
In the Moment is based on six principles: physical engagement, spiritual support, artistic expression, community connections, continued education, and lifestyle and leisure. The principles are the framework for meeting residents in the moment they are experiencing for kind and compassionate engagement to guide them through their days.
The community features life stations, which are areas where residents can participate in purposeful activities, from taking care of dolls to working in a small, raised garden. Other life stations include a travel station with items from across the world, and a “gentleman’s” station that features sports memorabilia and also clothing, like a top hat and dress coat.

Celebrating Life

Ginny was impressed with the staff’s enthusiasm, as well as the ongoing activities.
“I like how the residents grow their own herbs in the atriums, and then the chef uses them when he cooks,” states Ginny. “They also celebrate every holiday. For instance, they had a big barbeque on the Fourth of July.”
Ginny also likes how the team at Symphony at St. Augustine is very attentive to residents’ needs.
“My mom requires a lot of assistance with daily activities, and they’re always right there when she needs something,” she says. “I like their attitude, and I love the interaction. I think that’s critical for this type of illness.
“As a nurse, I can tell you that memory loss is a very difficult process, and as a daughter, it’s difficult to deal with. I had no idea it could take such a toll on a family. I’m incredibly grateful to Symphony at St. Augustine. Thanks to them, I can sleep at night and know Mom is safe.”
Linda was impressed with the knowledge and patience of the staff at Symphony at St. Augustine. She’s looking forward to celebrating her mother’s big day with them and with her family.
“For Mom’s birthday, we’re getting the whole family here, to the extent we can – many live outside the area – to have a big party,” reports Linda. “Once a month, Symphony celebrates everybody’s birthday in that month.”
“This October, we’re going to have a community celebration for Cyrilla’s milestone birthday,” confirms Anna.
“One hundred is a big deal,” concludes Linda.

Anchored Overdenture

For next-to-natural feel and function

Retired truck driver Rich Pearsall realized his bottom teeth were failing. A filling fell out of one tooth, another tooth required a root canal, and several others he knew had to be pulled. Still others caused him distress when he ate and drank.

Photo by Nerissa Johnson.

Rich is looking forward to getting his finished overdenture.

“I’ve had upper dentures for thirty years,” states Rich. “They were grinding against a couple of my bottom teeth, which wore them down almost to the nerve. Those teeth had become very sensitive to hot and cold. The sensitivity didn’t stop me from eating anything; I just suffered through the pain.”
Rich was not fond of dentists, and he avoided them until serious problems arose. He decided his failing, sensitive teeth qualified. He needed to find a skilled, compassionate dentist. He didn’t have to go far to find one.
“My granddaughter was the office manager for a dentist,” he notes.
She worked for Jacques Benchimol, DMD, at Healthy Smiles Dental of Palm Coast. Rich made an appointment with Dr. Benchimol.
After thoroughly evaluating Rich’s dental situation, Dr. Benchimol recommended extracting the failing teeth and replacing them with a lower denture. He further recommended an overdenture securely anchored by dental implants.
“I knew from other people that bottom dentures don’t stay in place very well, so I opted for the implant-secured overdenture,” relates Rich. “That was my best option.”

Securing Confidence

Lower dentures can often rock and slip when patients speak or eat, which is why an overdenture on the lower arch has many advantages. Since implant-supported overdentures are securely anchored in the mouth, they don’t slip or move. They allow for next-to-normal chewing force.
“When patients go from having natural teeth to traditional dentures, they lose about ninety-five percent of their chewing ability,” explains Dr. Benchimol. “However, overdentures supported by implants are secure, so they feel and function more like real teeth.”

“I like Dr. Benchimol and his staff at Healthy Smiles Dental of Palm Coast. I recommend them!” – Rich

Many patients like that denture adhesives are not necessary with overdentures. Often, patients don’t like having adhesive in their mouths and feel like they’re swallowing it all day. With overdentures, the appliances are anchored; there’s no need for gooey adhesives to hold them in place.
“Not having the embarrassment of their teeth popping out is huge, and feeling like they have natural teeth is psychologically important for many patients,” acknowledges Dr. Benchimol. “Secure overdentures give patients more confidence; it improves their self-esteem. It allows them to live happier lives because they know their teeth are not going to embarrass them.”

Customized Design

Healthy Smiles Dental of Palm Coast customizes every denture to the patient to create an appliance that looks truly natural. Rich, who is still in treatment, is looking forward to getting his finished overdenture, which was designed just for him.
“I have a temporary now, but I’m ready to get my permanent denture. I’m getting it next week,” he shares.
Rich offers some words of encouragement for others with failing teeth who may be considering lower dentures.
“Implant-supported overdentures can benefit you, and the process to get them is less painful than going through a root canal and other dental work,” he comments.
Dr. Benchimol’s compassionate manner helped Rich deal with his aversion to dentists and get his lower overdenture.
“I went to the dentist because it was necessary, but this was a much better experience than when I had my upper denture done thirty years ago,” says Rich. “I like Dr. Benchimol and his staff at Healthy Smiles Dental of Palm Coast. I recommend them!”

Farewell, Body Fat!

Safe, easy process results in lost pounds and inches.

Suzanne Goudreau loves her job with the Jensen Beach Chamber of Commerce. Among her duties, she welcomes visitors to the area, produces festivals and art shows, and develops networking events for local businesses.

Photo by Nerissa Johnson.

Suzanne already lost ten pounds.

In her role with the chamber, the Massachusetts native is very visible within the community. When she started putting on a few extra pounds and inches, she decided she didn’t like the impression she was making.
“I had some really stubborn fat, mostly in my belly and upper thighs,” describes Suzanne. “I’m going through menopause, and I just couldn’t get the weight off and keep it off. I was very unhappy. I didn’t like the way I looked. I was also in a new relationship and wasn’t comfortable with myself.
“My clothes didn’t fit. They were getting much too tight. I wore a size twelve, but I refused to go up to the next size.”
At this point, Suzanne started thinking about doing something more than dieting. It was through the chamber of commerce that she met Tred Rissacher, DC, of Slim Body Laser Spa in Stuart and learned about the Ultimate Laser-Assisted Weight Loss System he offers. Because she had areas of stubborn fat, Dr. Tred’s program, which targets that, intrigued her.
“The chamber held a fundraiser for the art and music programs in our local school, and Dr. Tred donated a gift certificate for some laser treatments,” notes Suzanne. “It was a silent auction. I chose to bid on that gift certificate, and I won it.”
When Suzanne first arrived at Slim Body Laser Spa, she had no idea what to expect. She was delighted by the staff’s friendly attention. They were understanding and listened without judgment as she described her concerns. After learning all about Dr. Tred’s Ultimate Laser-Assisted Weight Loss System, Suzanne had her first session that same day.
“The staff was wonderful,” she says. “They were very welcoming and really put me at ease. I sat there and listened to Dr. Tred explain just what they do, and I thought the process was too easy. The laser treatment doesn’t hurt and doesn’t require any recuperation.
“I actually saw a little difference that very first day, but after three treatments, I could really tell the difference. I started losing weight quickly after that.”
The staff at Slim Body also encouraged Suzanne to improve her diet and taught her the importance of good nutrition. The tips they offered enabled Suzanne to make better choices and stay on track with healthier eating habits.
“I didn’t realize I was eating so much sugar and other bad things,” she relates. “The guidelines the staff gave me helped me find foods that were better options than those I was eating. As part of my past efforts to lose weight, I used protein bars and shakes. They recommended products that were healthier than what I was using.”

Amazing Support

Photo by Nerissa Johnson.

With her slimmer look, Deb gets lots of compliments.

Like Suzanne, Deb Shockley is in a highly visible profession. She’s a district sales manager for Florida’s largest independent real estate company. She manages an entire office of agents and occasionally negotiates properties for past clients and friends. However, as she got older, the Maryland native started storing fat around her waist that wouldn’t budge.
“I’m five feet two inches tall and almost sixty-four years old, and I had that little muffin top and belly bulge that come with middle age,” shares Deb. “My clothes weren’t fitting very well, but I vowed I was not going to go to a larger size.”
Nothing she did helped to reduce those flabby areas, and Deb became disheartened. Then, she was introduced to the Ultimate Laser-Assisted Weight Loss System at Slim Body Laser Spa by one of the sales associates in her office.
“The associate told me about the program and even had a coupon for me to use, so I thought, I’m going to check this out,” she states. “I went to Slim Body and met with Dr. Tred.”
Deb fell in love with Slim Body Laser Spa the moment she arrived. The atmosphere was relaxing, and the people were warm and welcoming. When she met
Dr. Tred, she found him very knowledgeable and immediately trusted his opinion.
“It was a very comfortable environment at Slim Body,” she comments. “The staff was very welcoming. It was like visiting family or friends. That’s how I felt about them, and they were very supportive.
“Dr. Tred is amazing. He and I talked about my history and a surgery I had in the past. He felt my problem was probably the result of that surgery, but he believed the treatment would help me a lot.
“I was never one to consider doing any special program, especially anything invasive like liposuction, but the laser treatment is not an invasive procedure. That’s why I was interested in it and why I proceeded with it. I thought, This program makes sense. In fact, I thought it was cool because it was so easy.”
As in Suzanne’s case, Dr. Tred suggested improved nutrition goals for Deb as part of the overall weight loss program. Members of the Slim Body Laser Spa staff counseled Deb about healthier eating, but did so on Deb’s schedule.
“The staff was not pushy about nutrition, but they were there to support me. They taught me about recording my weight and tracking what I eat and things like that,” she offers. “They’d ask me if I wanted to talk about nutrition, and I’d answer, Yes, or No, not today. I just got back from a business trip. They helped me in any way they could.”

Beautiful Music

As part of Dr. Tred’s Ultimate Laser-Assisted Weight Loss System, patients receive nine 30-minute laser sessions in three weeks. The laser uses eight little “paddles” that house the laser energy. Each paddle is about the size of a cell phone. The laser energy is cool, does not heat up and there is no discomfort.
“They call Slim Body a spa for a reason,” notes Suzanne. “I got to lie down in a comfortable room with these lasers on my belly with beautiful music playing. It was probably the most relaxing part of my entire day.”
During each laser session, a staff member places the paddles on the specific areas to be reduced. These areas are treated at each session. After the 30-minute laser session is completed, patients are encouraged to go to a wonderful area called the whole body vibration room.
“The whole body vibration treatment, along with drinking plenty of water and doing some mild exercise following the laser session, helps the body release the stubborn fat and burn calories at the same time,” observes Dr. Tred. “Whole body vibration is an important part of the program, especially for those who have difficulty finding time to exercise, since the whole body vibration helps in the fat-reducing, inch-loss process.”
“During the treatment, I just lay there, and the staff took care of everything,” describes Deb. “I just listened to calming music and had these paddles on me. It was so easy; I really enjoyed it. Afterward, I loved the whole body machine. It was so cool!”

Safely Effective

Over the past six years, more than 4,000 people have shed thousands of stubborn pounds and inches with the help of
Dr. Tred’s Ultimate Laser-Assisted Weight Loss System. Dr. Tred’s system succeeds when other attempts at weight loss have failed. The difference is the laser, which works directly on the problem fat cells.
“When applied to the body, laser energy safely causes microscopic pores to form in the fat cells,” explains Dr. Tred. “The fat leaks out and is absorbed by the body. It is then burned as energy or removed from the body naturally.
“Most people want to get the fat off safely with good nutrition, minimum exercise and no downtime,” adds the doctor. “This laser treatment is an effective method that doesn’t take long. In a series of nine
thirty-minute sessions, patients can lose three to nine inches of belly fat, and their health can improve dramatically. This allows for a long-term solution to keeping the weight off.”
Dr. Tred’s laser system can treat many problem areas, including belly fat, muffin top, back fat, bra bulge, chin fat, upper arms, thighs and male breasts. The doctor does mention, however, that diet modification and some exercise can help the process to be more sustaining.
“In order for the results from these treatments to be long-lasting, patients do need to eat right and move around,” he acknowledges. “People will be more than happy with the results they see if they follow the entire plan.”

Comfortable Clothes

Suzanne and Deb are among the thousands of people who have had success with
Dr. Tred’s Ultimate Laser-Assisted Weight Loss System. Both women achieved excellent results through the program and are thrilled with how they look and feel. Suzanne and Deb have also opted to continue with Slim Body Laser Spa’s maintenance program.
“As of right now, I’ve lost eight and a half inches and ten pounds,” reports Suzanne. “My clothes are all loose. I have to buy a new wardrobe, but I want to wait and see how far down I get. I intend to lose another fifteen pounds.”
“After the nine sessions in the first three weeks, the staff took three measurements. When they totaled them up, I lost six and a half inches,” relays Deb. “I was amazed.
“My clothes are not tight anymore. There’s more room in them, which is always a blessing. I’m also getting compliments from some of my sales associates and people I see at meetings. They say, Have you lost weight? You look like you’ve lost a lot of weight.
Suzanne’s been told she looks good, too. That’s helping to motivate her to continue, but she has other reasons for moving forward as well.
“I invested in myself and don’t want it to be a bad investment,” she offers. “That’s part of the momentum, but each day I feel better, look better and get more compliments makes me just want to keep going. I also have a class reunion in a month, which is another incentive.
“The validation of having people notice also helps, although most don’t know exactly why I look different. The other day, someone told me my face looked thinner. That surprised me.”
Both Suzanne and Deb are pleased with their treatment results and happy with their experiences at Slim Body Laser Spa.
“Dr. Tred is great, and the staff at Slim Body are like cheerleaders,” says Suzanne. “They’re so nice, friendly and interested. They take pride in the fact that I’m taking pride in myself.”
“I drove forty-five minutes each way to get there, getting up early to be there for the early sessions so I could get on with my day,” adds Deb. “If I’m driving an hour and a half round trip, I have to believe in it. I definitely recommend Slim Body Laser Spa!”

Before and after images courtesy of Slim Body Laser Spa.

B&As of Dr. Tred’s patients

Help for Arthritic Ankles

Joint replacement surgery eliminates pain and preserves mobility.

Three years ago, Michigan native Kathy Hershey attended a seminar at her Sarasota neighborhood YMCA. There, a doctor discussed ankle replacement surgery. Kathy was especially interested because her own ankle, which was wracked with arthritis, left her in constant agony.

Photo by Fred Bellet.

Kathy can now be on her feet in the garden for hours.

“The doctor spoke specifically about ankle problems, since they’re his specialty, and about ankle replacements,” confirms Kathy. “When I was still in Michigan, they didn’t offer those procedures. As I listened to the doctor, I said, This is my guy. I had him replace my left ankle in 2014.”
The doctor was Brian C. Rell, DPM, of Southwest Foot and Ankle, a local practice that works closely with Lakewood Ranch Medical Center in Bradenton. Dr. Rell successfully performed Kathy’s left ankle surgery, so she knew where to turn when she started having trouble with her right ankle as well.
“I suffered a trauma on my right ankle seventeen years ago. I fell on the ice and twisted it,” describes Kathy. “It didn’t bother me initially, so I didn’t have it looked at until five years later. Then, it became arthritic. I went to several orthopaedic doctors, but they all wanted to fuse my ankle, which I wasn’t willing to do, so I just lived with it.
“Over time, the arthritis pain became excruciating. I’d rather have twelve babies than have that pain. It was constant, and it felt like someone took a sledgehammer to my ankle. I also had swelling, and the ankle looked bruised, too. But even with the pain, I still worked hard all day long, every day. I felt like I should just grin and bear it.”
Eventually, Kathy could no longer bear it, and the home remedies she tried were giving her no relief. At that point, she returned to Dr. Rell to inquire about having her right ankle replaced. When she arrived at Southwest Foot and Ankle, she was impressed by the doctor all over again.
“Dr. Rell is great. He explained everything; he even drew pictures,” she relates. “He told me just what to expect and said if I follow his instructions, I will heal well. He was right on the money about that.”

Modern Advancements

Total ankle replacements are generally offered to patients who have progressive arthritis of the ankle. These patients have pain that limits their mobility, and conservative measures have failed to alleviate their symptoms. Typically, the ankle becomes arthritic due to prior trauma, but patients can also develop osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis in the joints.
“Historically, the primary procedure to treat progressive arthritis was an ankle fusion, or what we call ankle arthrodesis,” notes Dr. Rell. “However, a fusion significantly restricts ankle movement and function.
“The implants available today are designed much better than older models. They’re much more anatomical. Aside from reducing pain and maintaining motion, modern implants allow for a more normal gait versus a fusion. It also alleviates strain on the knee.”
The doctor explains that many patients with ankle arthritis may also suffer from underlying knee arthritis. When an ankle is fused, the stress of walking is typically transmitted one joint up and one joint down. As a result of an ankle fusion, there’s a higher stress load placed on the knee joint, which can aggravate the knee arthritis and lead to pain and dysfunction.
Total ankle replacements are performed in a hospital setting. Dr. Rell performs most of his procedures at Lakewood Ranch Medical Center, in part due to the care provided in their specialized orthopaedic surgery unit, The Orthopaedic Spine and Joint Center. Ankle replacement surgery takes several hours to complete, and patients are typically admitted to The Orthopaedic Spine and Joint Center overnight.
“During the procedure, we use general anesthesia. The ankle joint is opened through an incision, and a portion of the top of the ankle, on the tibia, is removed,” educates Dr. Rell. “Then, a portion of the talus on the bottom of the ankle is also removed. Metal prostheses are implanted in the tibia and in the talus. Between these prostheses is a polyethylene spacer.
“This surgery essentially replaces a severely arthritic joint that is bone-on-bone with a new, artificial joint to alleviate pain and maintain motion at the ankle. These replacements can be very successful. They have a greater than ninety percent success rate after ten years, as long as the implants are placed in patients who are appropriate candidates.”
Dr. Rell likes that his patients, including Kathy, can take advantage of the comprehensive, structured program for surgical patients provided through The Orthopaedic Spine and Joint Center. Lakewood Ranch Medical Center’s orthopaedic unit is dedicated to the care of people having spine and joint surgery, including ankle joint replacement. The Orthopaedic Spine and Joint Center program follows specific guidelines and protocols designed to quickly initiate rehabilitation and enhance patient recovery.

Restored Function

Kathy’s time in The Orthopaedic Spine and Joint Center was brief; she stayed overnight after both ankle surgeries. Still, that was enough time to form an impression. She found the Spine and Joint Center and all the people at Lakewood Ranch Medical Center exceptional.
“It’s a beautiful facility,” she shares. “The staff is excellent and very compassionate. I understand why Dr. Rell likes to go to that hospital. He and the surgical staff have a close camaraderie; they work really well together. I could tell by the way they were relating to each other in the operating room before I fell asleep.
“The nurses and the staff at Lakewood Ranch Medical Center are wonderful. They did a great job.”
Dr. Rell offered Kathy a prescription medication for pain, but she declined. She chose to take other steps to relieve her minimal discomfort after surgery. She recalled Dr. Rell’s statement about following his instructions. She took that to heart and achieved great results.
“I didn’t need a lot of pain medication; I don’t really like that stuff,” she reports. “My pain medicine was mostly ice and elevation, and it worked. I also don’t have any more swelling.
“Most of the bruising color has subsided, too. There’s a little shadow yet, but overall, I’m doing really well. I’m back to doing whatever I want, although I don’t do anything competitively, like running. Instead, I stick with water sports, which are my favorite activities anyway.”
When Kathy decided to attend that seminar three years ago, she had no idea it would change her life. For years, she lived in agony with progressive arthritis in her ankles. Now, she has two new ankle joints, with no pain and full function. She’s grateful to everyone involved in her care.
“Dr. Rell is great. I’m very thankful for his skills. I’d recommend him any day. I also recommend Lakewood Ranch Medical Center!”

Pain – It’s All Related

Just one vertebra out of position can affect the entire body.

A 30-year veteran of the US Postal Service, Pat Coon put a lot of strain on her back and neck sorting and delivering mail. She never knew the stress on her spine could cause pain elsewhere in her body.Stock photos from
“I got migraine headaches, and most of them were from the repetition of bending my head down, and twisting and turning at work,” relates Pat. “Sometimes, the headaches and pressure on my neck made me nauseated, and sensitive to light and sound. I also had a lot of pain in my neck along with the headaches, which were practically constant.”
Being sensitive to light was especially difficult for Pat, who worked outdoors delivering mail. While she insisted on staying on the job despite the headaches, she relented to the pain when she was done for the day.
“I wasn’t completely debilitated by the migraines, but it didn’t help that I worked outside in the sunshine,” she explains. “The first thing I did when I got home was make sure everything was nice and dark, take a cold shower and go to bed.”
At that point, Pat thought she was destined to suffer. Then, a friend told her about an upper cervical doctor he visited in California. He recommended she seek the care of a similar chiropractor locally.
Pat looked up providers in the area and discovered Stephen R. Zabawa, DC, at Atlas Chiropractic of Sarasota.
Dr. Zabawa is a board-certified upper cervical chiropractor. He uses gentle, precise adjustment protocols known as Orthospinology and Atlas Orthogonal procedures to treat misalignments of the spine.
“Unlike other chiropractors, I don’t use snap-crackle-pop techniques during spinal adjustments,” says Dr. Zabawa. “I concentrate only on the uppermost vertebra, called the atlas, using an instrument that produces what feels almost like a puff of air.”
“I felt very comfortable when I met
Dr. Zabawa,” states Pat. “He was knowledgeable and definitely knew what he was talking about. He was very honest and didn’t try to make me come back all the time. Instead, he set up a sensible plan for me.
“My daughter also had neck issues and headaches. She did a lot of swimming when she was younger, so she had shoulder issues as well. A friend of hers recommended the upper cervical treatment for her neck and shoulders. We both go to Dr. Zabawa.”

About the Atlas

Just as the mighty Atlas in Greek mythology held up the world, the first cervical vertebra, the atlas, holds up the head. Atlas adjustment procedures seek to maintain the precise alignment of that vertebra.
“Since the balance of the head on the neck controls the body’s posture, this balance is essential to good health,” informs Dr. Zabawa. “Misalignment of the atlas vertebra causes the spine to twist in an attempt to maintain that balance. This twist can put pressure on the spinal cord or the brainstem itself.

“It’s much easier on your body. It felt like a little tap, and almost immediately, I could tell the difference.” – Pat

“This pressure can cause a variety of symptoms and problems, many of which can appear to be unassociated with the cervical spine. These include lower back and hip problems, and headaches such as Pat and her daughter suffered.”
At Atlas Chiropractic of Sarasota, Dr. Zabawa begins his initial evaluation with a complete examination to check for subluxation.
“That’s just a big word meaning that two bones are out of position and you may have nerve pressure,” notes
Dr. Zabawa. “If there is subluxation and we’ve determined that a patient is a good candidate for the atlas procedure, then we take a series of extremely detailed, three-dimensional x-rays.
“Since the adjustment is highly precise, the measurements we take and the analysis we make are also meticulous. When I know the exact angle at which a patient is misaligned, I know how to adjust them.”
“Dr. Zabawa took the x-rays first to make sure where to do the treatment,” confirms Pat. “The first time he did it, I could tell right away my spine went back into place.”

Restoring Balance

“What makes upper cervical chiropractic unique is the gentleness and precision of the adjustment,” reports Dr. Zabawa. “Patients lie on their side, right or left, depending on how they are misaligned. Then, gently, using one instrument, I realign their whole spine. An upper cervical correction is very controlled so there is no pulling or jerking of such a delicate area.”
Stock photos from instrument used during the procedure produces a very light tapping on the patient’s neck. The tapping is done at a high speed and is barely noticeable by the patient. Still, the force travels through the soft tissue and muscles to the bone and gently realigns the vertebra at the appropriate point to release pressure on the spinal cord and brainstem.
“Dr. Zabawa is not like your everyday chiropractors who manipulate your body. He uses a machine to do that,” offers Pat. “It’s much easier on your body, and I felt the effects right away. There wasn’t any pain at all with the treatment. It felt like a little tap, and almost immediately, I could tell the difference. It’s the only thing I found that relieves the headaches.”
“When I adjust the atlas vertebra, I’m actually adjusting the full spine, including the pelvis and sacrum,” describes
Dr. Zabawa. “Once the spine, head and neck have returned to their proper positions, interference is removed thus taking pressure off the nervous system. By removing that pressure, balance is restored to the body. It’s an effective approach without any extreme manipulations.
“The human body has an amazing ability to heal itself. I’d like to see chiropractic as a proactive treatment to stop a lot of conditions before they worsen. Unfortunately, I see patients when they’ve tried everything else and they’re trying this last. Chiropractic treatment is where many people should start.”

Headache Relief

Pat and her daughter have been patients of Dr. Zabawa since 2010. Pat’s neck pain and headaches have resolved, and she now sees the doctor for maintenance care. She doesn’t want a return of the pain she suffered before treatment.
“I feel great as long as I go to
Dr. Zabawa about once a month,” Pat says. “If I do something crazy, like twist wrong, I have to go back sooner. But if I keep my neck straight, it pretty much keeps my whole body in line.”
Dr. Zabawa notes that Pat’s daughter’s misalignment wasn’t as significant as Pat’s, in part because she is younger. Her shoulder pain and headaches have disappeared since treatment. Like Pat, she visits the doctor on a periodic basis.
Thanks to Dr. Zabawa and the atlas procedure, Pat is now headache free. She’s happy to have her life back to normal and to deliver mail in the sunshine without discomfort. She’s also pleased with her experience at Atlas Chiropractic of Sarasota.
“I enjoy my time there,” she says. “Dr. Zabawa’s assistant is the greatest. I can call her any time I need to. She’s very accommodating. They’re both great at everything.
“I feel very confident with
Dr. Zabawa and Atlas Chiropractic of Sarasota.”

Never Say Never

Dental implants can be done in complex cases.

In 2003, Charlene Gotts finally retired and moved to Florida after working 25 years on the support staff for the board of education in her native New Jersey. She later discovered just how fortunate she was to live in Spring Hill when she started having trouble with her teeth five years ago.

Dr. Michael Hashemian of The Dentofacial & Cosmetic Surgery Institute in Lecanto, Spring Hill and Land O’ Lakes placed dental implants for Charlene Gotts, including one that involved a complicated procedure.

Charlotte’s smile and positive attitude extend to her daily tennis game.

“I had some teeth that had to be removed because they were bad,” she shares. “I wasn’t in any pain, and I wasn’t having trouble eating; they were just failing. To replace them, I wanted dental implants rather than a bridge or false teeth. I wanted solid teeth so I could chew well.”

To give her what she wanted, Charlene’s dentist referred her to a skilled professional with expertise in dental implants, oral and maxillofacial surgeon Michael Hashemian, MD, DMD.
Dr. Hashemian’s practice, The Dentofacial & Cosmetic Surgery Institute, has offices in Lecanto, Land O’ Lakes and, luckily for Charlene, Spring Hill. Charlene liked the oral surgeon right from the start.

“Dr. Hashemian was definitely knowledgeable,” she reveals. “He was very bright and knew exactly what to do. He was also very informative about what was going to happen, and he even gave me some pamphlets to read. I learned from a friend that he is very accomplished.

“I was also impressed by Dr. Hashemian’s personality. He was very pleasant, and his chairside manner was excellent. I felt relaxed and comfortable with him.”

The first implant Dr. Hashemian placed for Charlene was a front tooth, and that was done five years ago. Charlene was so happy with the results, she returned to the oral surgeon several times for additional implant procedures.

“I treated Charlene on at least four different occasions for dental implants in various areas,” notes Dr. Hashemian. “She was pleased with her treatment the first time, and returned after a year or two for treatment of the others.”

“I’ve been getting implants by Dr. Hashemian for the past five years,” confirms Charlene. “Overall, I’ve had four implants done at different times. I have one implant in a bottom molar on the right side and one on the upper right side. My one front tooth is an implant, and on the left side, I have an implant on the bottom.

“Getting implants is very involved and takes months. You have the post put in and then you wait for the bone to heal all around it. It’s a long process,” she relates. “Dr. Hashemian let me know what was going to happen. I knew exactly what was going to be done and the time it would take.”

When Precision Counts

As Charlene describes, one of her implant procedures was more complex than the others.

Charlene was pleased with all of her implant procedures. Dr. Hashemian especially impressed her with one that was out of the ordinary. Like the other instances, this procedure involved removing a tooth and replacing it with the implant. However, this tooth was very near her jaw joint, which had been previously repaired surgically.Dr. Michael Hashemian of The Dentofacial & Cosmetic Surgery Institute in Lecanto, Spring Hill and Land O’ Lakes placed dental implants for Charlene Gotts, including one that involved a complicated procedure.

To hold her jaw in place securely following surgery, Charlene’s surgeon used a combination of bone plates and screws. The presence of the hardware in her jaw made this implant procedure particularly delicate.

“I had dental work done twenty-five years ago, when I went into New York and had my jaw adjusted for TMJ,” she describes. “As a result, I had the plates and screws. When Dr. Hashemian had to remove this tooth to do the implant, he also had to remove a plate and screw.

“That procedure was very complicated, but Dr. Hashemian performed it very well, and I got the implant.”

“As a result of a past facial trauma, Charlene had bone plates and screws and also some bone loss in her upper and lower jaws,” acknowledges
Dr. Hashemian. “That made one of her procedures a little bit challenging.”

Bone plates and screws are used when patients have jaw surgery to repair fractures due to trauma or pathology. Surgery resets the fracture site, and this site heals in approximately two months. At that point, the plates and screws are no longer necessary. They’re generally kept in place, however, because it requires another surgery to retrieve them.

“In many cases, the plates and screws are close to the alveolar ridge, or the arch of the upper or lower part of the jaw,” explains Dr. Hashemian. “In these cases, we have to remove those plates and screws in order to place a dental implant, and simultaneously do the second procedure, whether it is placing the dental implant or augmenting the bone, as in Charlene’s case. This process involves some very precise work.”

According to Dr. Hashemian, many practitioners hesitate to approach cases when there is inadequate bone or reduced sensation due to nerves affected by facial trauma or surgery. In those instances, patients may have some partial numbness, and the practitioners are afraid of making it worse.

“Instead, these providers tell those patients they are not candidates for dental implants, which is a shame,” he reports. “If a patient’s bone is insufficient, we can always augment the bone before placing the implants. Even if there is partial numbness, it is not an issue. We cannot restore the feeling, but we will not make it worse.”

Positive Attitude

Over the years, Charlene has repeatedly sought out Dr. Hashemian due to his expertise, the exceptional quality of his work and the excellent results he achieves.Dr. Michael Hashemian of The Dentofacial & Cosmetic Surgery Institute in Lecanto, Spring Hill and Land O’ Lakes placed dental implants for Charlene Gotts, including one that involved a complicated procedure.

“I love my implants. They’re perfect. They’re just what I wanted,” states Charlene. “I have a good bite, and I’m able to eat anything I want. I’m really very pleased.”

Dr. Hashemian asserts that patients’ attitudes are important, too. Their outlook makes a difference in their outcomes and satisfaction. If patients are optimistic and believe their appearance and function will improve with dental implants, they’re more likely to be happy with their results.

“Charlene has a really great attitude,” comments the oral surgeon. “She is an extremely strong person, and she believes dental implants can improve her dentition. That is very significant.

“From day one, Charlene was comfortable going forward with the implants. She was in a very optimistic state of mind, and that really helped. Her positive attitude about the procedures made it easier for us to work with her.”

“I believe in implants,” enthuses Charlene. “I wouldn’t want to have anything other than implants in my mouth. I recommend them, and I certainly recommend Dr. Hashemian and The Dentofacial and Cosmetic Surgery Institute.”

FHCN article by Patti DiPanfilo. Photo by Jordan Pysz. Before and after images courtesy of The Dentofacial & Cosmetic Surgery Institute. Graphic from mkb

Crowned Confidence

Patient feels younger and more self-assured with restored smile

Louisiana native Rhonda Hicks was 30 years old when she left her home state to live in Florida. She initially resided in the Keys, but moved to Beverly Hills in December 2016. While Rhonda loves her new home, she’s been a bit hesitant to show it with a smile. Over time, her teeth began to show their age.

Dr. Gelson Camargo at Nature Coast Dentistry in Beverly Hills gave Rhonda Hicks a new smile using crowns.

Rhonda is thrilled with how the crowns improved her smile.

“When I was younger, I actually had pretty nice teeth, but as I got older, things started to happen,” shares Rhonda. “The top four and bottom four teeth in the front became stained and chipped, and started cracking. I wanted to get some cosmetic dental work done on them.”

Being fairly new to the area, Rhonda was not familiar with local health care providers and didn’t know where to turn for help with her teeth. The answer was revealed to her when she opened a copy of Florida Health Care News and read about Beverly Hills dentist Gelson Camargo, DDS, and his practice, Nature Coast Dentistry. What she read was later confirmed.

“We live near a golf course, so I asked some of the people in the community who play golf about Dr. Camargo, and they recommended him as well,” she states. That was enough to convince her to make an appointment at Nature Coast Dentistry.

Rhonda also suffers from a jaw condition that makes it impossible for her to open her mouth completely while having dental work done. Past dental appointments often became very aggravating and painful. As a result, she didn’t like dentists or going to the dentist. However, Rhonda was elated and relieved when she met Dr. Camargo and his staff.

“Dr. Camargo was very knowledgeable and patient,” she describes. “I’ve never been to a dentist who is that patient and considerate. Most dentists make you feel rushed, so you’re not very comfortable. Dr. Camargo was willing to work with me.

“He also has great assistants. They are very polite and patient with me, and very understanding. His dental hygienist is one of the best.”

Dr. Camargo evaluated Rhonda’s situation, then proposed a treatment plan to restore her teeth and give her a bright, new smile. Rhonda agreed to the plan. She had complete trust in his skills.

“I asked Dr. Camargo what he could do for my teeth,” she recalls. “He recommended crowns on my four top and four bottom front teeth. That’s what I had done.”

Traditions and Technology

Nature Coast Dentistry is part of a local tradition of clinical excellence, with
Dr. Camargo leading the way. The practice is committed to quality and makes sure every patient’s dental experience is comfortable, personalized and affordable.

“As more people today are realizing the importance of healthier, stronger teeth, our focus is on long-term results for our patients,” remarks Dr. Camargo.

A welcoming environment is provided at Nature Coast Dentistry, and a complete line of dental services is available. Dr. Camargo is educated in every facet of dentistry. Their goal is to provide gentle, professional and personal service.

Dr. Camargo and his staff use the latest technology in digital x-rays to generate computerized images with 70 percent less radiation exposure to the patient than traditional x-rays.

“I love my teeth. I like my smile. I feel like I’m thirty years younger.” – Rhonda

“I like to provide the most leading-edge dentistry I possibly can,” observes Dr. Camargo. “I was the first in the county to have digital x-rays, and I was the first one to have a CT scanner in my office. Today’s technologies allow us to do higher-quality work at a lower cost.”

The dentist took advantage of that technology while creating Rhonda’s crowns, particularly when he took an impression of her teeth and made her temporary restorations. The crowning process, from beginning to end, impressed Rhonda.

“First, Dr. Camargo sculpted down my teeth so there was room to place the crowns,” she notes. “He then made an impression and sent it off to the lab. It was done with a computer so he could get a more precise bite.

“After that, he gave me temporary crowns, which he made right there in his office. He’s very good at that. I was amazed by the temporaries; they looked really good. I thought, I’ll just keep these. What do I need the other ones for? But he called me back two weeks later, and then I had a new set of teeth.”

Dr. Camargo continually upgrades his practice with the latest equipment, techniques and technologies, but what makes Nature Coast Dentistry stand out is Dr. Camargo and his staff’s dedication to patients and their families.

“We want each and every one of our patients to be at ease and be satisfied when they leave our office,” he emphasizes. “We want them to have an exceptional experience here.

“The last thing we want to do is run a clinic with assembly-line service. We develop lasting relationships with our patients based on mutual trust, open communication and efficient, considerate service.

“We treat our patients the way we like to be treated ourselves,” he continues. “Here, all of our patients are treated one at a time. We do not rush and we do the right thing. In our office, patients are treated like human beings and not like numbers. If you go to those clinics, you may save some money, but they treat you like a number. Not here.”

Time Passages

To Rhonda, the process for getting her crowns was impressive, and so are the finished products. She’s thrilled by how the new restorations make her look and feel.

“I love my teeth,” she states. “I like my smile. It’s back to the way it used to be. I feel like I’m thirty years younger, and it gives me more self-confidence.”

Rhonda also likes the people at Nature Coast Dentistry, and is pleased with her treatment there. She points out that everyone at the Beverly Hills dental practice strives to make patients happy with their outcomes and the quality of care they receive.

“Dr. Camargo and his staff are very excited for you to like your results,” she reports. “They want you to be happy with your care. It’s not one of those offices where you’re just paying for a service that they do, and you don’t argue. They don’t make you feel that way.

“The hygienist is great, and when she has difficult patients, she takes more time with them. When she cleans my teeth, she has to use a child mouthpiece to open my mouth because the adult size doesn’t fit. She doesn’t have much room to work with in my mouth, but she amazes me.”

The Nature Coast Dentistry staff’s caring attitude and patient treatment have changed the way Rhonda feels about going to the dentist. The office environment also contributes to the friendly and comfortable atmosphere at the practice.

“It’s named Nature Coast because when you’re in there, you feel like you’re in nature,” says Rhonda. “There are huge windows you look out, and you see trees. I recommend them, and have been. I tell anybody who needs a dentist about
Dr. Camargo and Nature Coast Dentistry.”

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

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

Vacuum Effect

Painless, nonsurgical therapy relieves back pain.

Massachusetts native Joe Graham spent a career with New England Telephone, later NYNEX, where he was last a computer programmer. He’s retired now, but still works as a volunteer genealogist at a local library in Sarasota, his Florida home.

Dr. Craig S. Aderholdt of Back Pain Institute of West Florida in Bradenton and Sarasota treated Joe Graham for low back pain with VAX-D therapy.

As a genealogist, Joe spends hours sitting while
doing research.

The sitting involved in these jobs, combined with aging, likely contributed to the pain that developed over time in Joe’s lower back.

“I’d been going to chiropractors off and on for years,” he shares. “I had small aches and pains, but nothing major. They told me I had spinal degeneration, so I was aware of that condition.

“Then last year in May, my wife and I drove up to Maine. While we were checking into a hotel outside of Scranton, Pennsylvania, I was taking the luggage out of the car and putting it onto a luggage cart. I went to put some luggage on the cart, stepped back, and the next thing I knew, I was flat on my back.

“The pain didn’t come for a few days. When it finally did, it was an aching pain, and my lower back was really sore. I saw a doctor in Maine, and he determined nothing was broken. He put me on a mild muscle relaxant, which did nothing.”

While in Maine for the summer, Joe found a local chiropractor to treat his aching back. In September, when Joe and his wife returned to Sarasota, Joe’s back still hurt. As time went by, it got worse, and his pain level increased dramatically.

“I just wanted to sit because getting up was painful,” he describes. “I was having problems walking, and I had to use a cane. I talked to a person at church who told me about a chiropractor he went to who did wonders.”

That provider was Dr. Craig S. Aderholdt at Back Pain Institute of West Florida. Joe’s pain was intensifying, so he decided to make an appointment with Dr. Aderholdt and find out for himself what the doctor could do.

“Dr. Aderholdt took an x-ray and could see my lower back and pelvic area were out of alignment,” explains Joe. “He told me the lower part of my spine, the L4 and L5, were compressed. All the weight of my upper torso was pushing down on those discs.

“He recommended I undergo a type of decompression therapy called VAX-D. I never heard of that before, but I agreed and immediately began treatment. After a few weeks, I started feeling much better.”

Valuable Tool

For many patients like Joe, Dr. Aderholdt often recommends vertebral axial decompression, or VAX-D, which is a patented, FDA-approved medical decompression technique for alleviating pressure on the discs of the spine. It is not a traction device, and Dr. Aderholdt is one of the few doctors in the country who offers this treatment.

“Chiropractic adjustments alone can actually relieve many patients’ pain,” observes Dr. Aderholdt. “However, for select people with sciatica, or herniated, bulging or degenerated discs, the VAX-D treatment has proven extremely effective.”

During treatment, the patient relaxes on a comfortable, computer-controlled table, secured with a pelvic belt or patented cervical collar. Carefully specified tension and pressure changes guide the use of VAX-D, allowing the therapist to focus decompression at the exact level of spinal dysfunction.

VAX-D’s computerized system enables the table to make subtle but targeted movements, which creates a powerful vacuum within the disc space. This vacuum gently draws the disc back to its proper orientation, pulling nutrient-rich spinal fluid into the disc and stimulating repair cells, effectively mending the disc.

“Nothing else can create such a powerful vacuum,” notes Dr. Aderholdt, “which is what makes VAX-D such a valuable tool for pain relief. There are imitators, but the vacuum effect is the most powerful one known; it doesn’t allow muscles to contract like other machines might. In fact, VAX-D is the only nonsurgical treatment that has been clinically proven to reduce disc pressure to negative levels.

“The VAX-D treatment has a long track record of many satisfied patients over the years. Long-term studies have actually shown that VAX-D is effective in more than eighty-eight percent of patients who go through the treatment.”

“The treatment is hard to describe,” reports Joe. “You’re lying there face down on the table, harnessed up. Then, you get pulled and stretched a little. It felt a bit strange at first, but it doesn’t hurt. Afterward, you receive electrostimulation and hydrotherapy. The treatments helped a lot. I started feeling a difference quickly.”

“I consider VAX-D one of the most effective nonsurgical medical treatments for low back pain and sciatica today,” offers Dr. Aderholdt. “This revolutionary technology is one more tool I can offer my patients as we work toward relieving pain and maintaining the health of the lumbar and cervical spine.”

Barely One

Once Joe completed his treatment, he experienced significant improvement in his back pain and his mobility. He notes the difference in his pain level on a scale from one to ten.

“The VAX-D treatment relieved the pain,” he confirms. “Now, I’d barely give the pain a one. Before, it was more like a seven, eight or sometimes nine.

“Dr. Aderholdt’s treatment made it easier for me to walk, sometimes without the cane. I use the cane now only as a safety aid in case I lose my balance, but there are times I walk and don’t use it at all.

“The x-ray Dr. Aderholdt took shows the gap between the L4 and the L5 is widening from the decompression, so it definitely helped that, too.”

Getting up out of a chair is much easier for Joe as well. He takes his time to make sure he’s steady on his feet, but it isn’t painful like it was before VAX-D. Joe knows he still needs to take care of his back because of the spinal degeneration.

“I usually get up, pause a moment to make sure I have my balance and then go about what I’m doing,” he states. “What I do between treatments makes a difference, too. Since I’m a genealogist, I sit a lot at the computer doing research. If I don’t sit properly, I might put my back out. Dr. Aderholdt gave me a list of exercises I can do to strengthen my back.”

Joe is very pleased with the outcome of his VAX-D treatment. He often recommends Dr. Aderholdt and Back Pain Institute of West Florida.

“Dr. Aderholdt’s VAX-D has been a success for me!”

FHCN article by Patti DiPanfilo. Graphic from Photo by Fred Bellet. mkb
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