What is DRG stimulation?

Dorsal Root Ganglion (DRG) stimulation is a new type of therapy that can help those who suffer from chronic neuropathic pain or complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS). Neuropathic pain is pain caused by damage to or malfunction of the nerves themselves. The peripheral nervous system includes all the nerves that lead to and from the spinal cord. The nerves transmit pain signals to the brain. If the nerves are injured, neuropathic pain may develop. Chronic neuropathic pain can be challenging to treat because it can be difficult to pinpoint where and how the nerves are damaged.

Click here to learn more about neuropathic pain.

What is the dorsal root ganglion?

The dorsal root ganglion is a bundle of nerve cell bodies located within the posterior region of various vertebrae along the spinal column. It is adjacent to the dorsal nerve root. The primary function of the dorsal root ganglion is to transmit information regarding your senses. As such, the dorsal root ganglion carries sensory neural signals from the peripheral nervous system to the central nervous system, which includes your spinal cord and brain.

DRG Stimulation

DRG stimulation consists of electrical leads, an optional extension, and an implantable pulse generator. The electrical leads are threaded into the epidural space and from there, into the intervertebral foraman, in which the DRG lies. Each lead is tipped by four electrode contacts that are placed over the DRG. A non-rechargeable pulse generator is implanted in a pocket either in the upper buttock/low back, or, with an extension, into the abdominal wall. In the period after surgery the leads can be programmed to give stimulation based on the pain pattern. Patients go home with a small hand-held controller that switches between stimulation settings.

DRG stimulation is pretty identical to traditional spinal cord stimulation (SCS), with one very important difference. Rather than placing leads in a general region of the spinal cord, DRG stimulation targets the specific regions of the spinal cord that are transmitting the pain and shuts down those painful signals directly by placing the leads directly over the DRG’s.

To learn more about DRG stimulation click here.

 

TCPC Welcomes Nancy Nyongesa, DNP, FNP

Please join Twin Cities Pain Clinic in welcoming our newest Burnsville provider!

"I have 5 years of experience in pain management as a nurse practitioner. I strongly believe in positive patient-provider relationship and shared decision-making."

"I am mother to two handsome boys. When I am not with my family or at work, I enjoy spending time with friends, playing volleyball, shopping. I was fortunate to play volleyball at highest level of the sport – 2004 Athens summer Olympic games."

Education

Associate in Practical Nursing degree in 2007 at Dickinson State University

Bachelor of Science degree in nursing in 2009 at Dickinson State University

Doctor of Nursing Practice with Specialty in Family Practice in 2013 at North Dakota State University

Hobbies

Powerwalking, running short distance races (5K, 10K), Spending time with husband and kids, and playing league volleyball.

"I am delighted to be part of the Twin Cities Pain Clinic team!"

Employee Spotlight: Ieasha

Meet Ieasha, Patient Service Representative at Twin Cities Pain Clinic! Ieasha was nominated by her fellow staff members for always going above and beyond with the patients she encounters. Ieasha continues to demonstrate exceptional customer service to the patients she helps. Your hard work does not go unnoticed. Thank you for all you do, Ieasha!

What is your position / What are your daily responsibilities?

I am a Patient Service Representative at the front desk of the Edina clinic. I help patients check-in and check-out.

How long have you been with TCPC?

I have been with TCPC for 3 months and I enjoy working with patients and the TCPC team.

What are some of your hobbies?

I enjoy spending time relaxing at home reading or watching movies and I also love spending time with my family.

What is your favorite thing about working at TCPC?

The staff are amazing! The atmosphere is positive and I can always find help if I need it. I enjoy being a team player. I believe that in order to be effective and deliver the best care possible we have to be equipped with the support to do our jobs efficiently. Here at TCPC the support and leadership is amazing and I am proud to be part of the team.

 

 

Twin Cities Pain Clinic has been named a Top Workplace by the Star Tribune. This great award wouldn't be possible without our amazing staff members. Your hard work does not go unnoticed.

All About Sciatica

40% of people will experience sciatica during their life, ranking it one of the most common causes of persistent pain. “People who suffer from acute or chronic back pain tend to be more susceptible to sciatica,” says Dr. Jeffrey N. Katz, professor of medicine and orthopedic surgery at Harvard Medical School. “Your risk also rises if you’re obese, if you smoke, or if you’re sedentary.”

Sciatica refers to pain that radiates along the path of the sciatic nerve. The sciatic nerve branches from your low back through your hips and buttocks and down each leg. Sciatica affects millions of Americans, and it can range from a minor nuisance to a debilitating problem.

Symptoms

Sciatica describes a set of symptoms of an underlying medical condition. The term describes the pain, tingling, numbness, or weakness that starts in the lower back and moves to the large sciatic nerve located in either leg. Sciatica most commonly occurs when a herniated disk, bone spur on the spine or narrowing of the spine (spinal stenosis) compresses part of the nerve, acting like a kink in a garden hose. This can happen because of an injury or trauma, but, is often the result of years of bending and sitting for long stretches.

Some symptoms that can occur are inflammation, pain and some numbness. Pain that radiates from your lower (lumbar) spine to your buttock and down the back of your leg is the hallmark of sciatica. You might feel the discomfort almost anywhere along the nerve pathway, but it’s especially likely to follow a path from your low back to your buttock and the back of your thigh and calf. Numbness, tingling, or muscle weakness can also be present in the affected leg or even foot.

Treatments

There are various treatments for sciatica, depending on the severity of the diagnosis. Treatments of sciatica range from rest and stretching exercises to various injections, radiofrequency ablation (RFA), medications, physical therapy, and spinal decompression. Not one treatment is right for everyone, as the underlying reason of sciatica varies from person to person.

Tips to Help Prevent Sciatica

Sciatica is not totally preventable, but there are a few things you can do to help strengthen and protect your back. Regular exercise is key. To keep your back strong focus on your core muscles, the muscles in your abdomen and lower back. These muscles are essential for proper posture and alignment, which, will help to prevent sciatica pain.

Maintaining proper posture when you sit is also important. Choosing a good seat is the first step. Find a seat with good lower back support, armrests, and a swivel base. Keep your knees and hips level. And sometimes keeping a pillow or towel at the small of your back will help maintain its normal curve. Also, be sure to use proper body mechanics. Sitting and standing upright and not slouching. Making sure if you are reading or working it is in front of you, preferably at eye level and avoiding excessive twisting and bending at the hips.

If you stand for long periods, resting one foot on a stool or small box from time to time can help ease the weight of standing. When you lift something heavy it is important to lift with your legs and not your back. That means bending down at the knees while keeping your back in a straight line, not bending forward at the hips. Hold the load close to you. And avoid lifting and twisting simultaneously. If the object is heavy or awkward, find a lifting partner.

 

To Find Out More

If you are experiencing pain, numbness, or tingling as mentioned above, severe pain in your low back or leg, or pain following an accident, please do not hesitate to reach out to Twin Cities Pain Clinic at 952-841-2345 or twincitiespainclinic.com to talk to a professional today.

Employee Spotlight: Collin

Meet Collin, Clinical Assistant at Twin Cities Pain Clinic! Collin was nominated by his fellow staff members for always providing the highest quality of patient care and customer service. Collin is great with the patients and always has a great attitude at work. Your hard work does not go unnoticed. Thank you for all you do, Collin!

What is your position / What are your daily responsibilities?

I am a Clinical Assistant at both the Woodbury and Edina locations. My responsibilities include helping the provider document their visit and assisting with medical assistant functions as needed, such as rooming patients, collecting vitals and lab work.

How long have you been with TCPC?

Mid-February I reached 7 months with Twin Cities Pain Clinic.

What are some of your hobbies?

My favorite way to spend the day is hiking. I go camping whenever I can with my wonderful girlfriend, Anna. I also like to cook and go to the gym.

What is your favorite thing about working at TCPC?

My favorite thing about working at TCPC is how well everyone works as a team and creates such a positive environment.

 

 

Twin Cities Pain Clinic has been named a Top Workplace by the Star Tribune. This great award wouldn't be possible without our amazing staff members. Your hard work does not go unnoticed.

Employee Spotlight: Iris

Meet Iris, Patient Services Representative at Twin Cities Pain Clinic! Iris was nominated by her fellow staff members for going above and beyond with the patients she helps. She takes the time to get to know patients and makes sure they have everything they need and are ready for their appointment with their provider. Thank you for all you do Iris!

What is your position / What are your daily responsibilities?

I am a Patient Service Representative at Twin Cities Pain Clinic. My responsibilities include checking patients in and out and also relaying any information to the providers before they see the patient.

How long have you been with TCPC?

I have been working at TCPC for about 3 months. I truly enjoy it!

What are some of your hobbies?

Some of my hobbies include cooking, taking my daughter out to play or planning trips back to California to see my family. I also love to travel and plan on going to Nassau this year.

What is your favorite thing about working at TCPC?

My favorite thing about working at TCPC is some of the conversations I have with the patients. It's so nice to learn new things about them. I also love how nice and welcoming the staff is. I know if I ever need any help, I do not have to hesitate to ask.

 

 

Twin Cities Pain Clinic has been named a Top Workplace by the Star Tribune. This great award wouldn't be possible without our amazing staff members. Your hard work does not go unnoticed.

How Vince Got His Life Back With Spinal Cord Stimulation

“For many years I was getting by, but never truly able to live” states Vince, a patient at Twin Cities Pain Clinic, regarding the pain he has been experiencing for over a decade. In 2004 Vince underwent a microdiscectomy in his low back. A microdiscectomy is a minimally invasive procedure to provide relief from pain caused by a lumbar herniated disc. He was still experiencing pain after his microdiscectomy to the point that he could not walk far, climb stairs, or do many activities with his kids.

It wasn’t until this past year that the pain had reached its worst. Vince also fell recently, which contributed to his pain. Since June, his pain had become so severe that he was missing work because of it. He was experiencing pain on the left side of his body at his low back, sciatica, and down his leg. On a bad day, he would describe his pain as an 8/10, with 0 being no pain and 10 being the worst. Pain medication helped slightly, where the pain would hover at a consistent 6/10, but it was still limiting Vince from living his life to the fullest and even doing simple day-to-day tasks.

Vince was stuck in a whirlwind of treatment options without progress with his primary care doctor for about 6 months. He was visiting his doctor twice a month, trying epidural injections, and still having no significant pain relief. It was important for Vince to find pain relief without the heavy side effects of medication or the intense recovery of surgery. He longed to get back to his regular life, the life he enjoyed without debilitating pain. After a long, over-due conversation with his doctor, he was referred to Twin Cities Pain Clinic.

On November 27th, shortly after becoming a patient at Twin Cities Pain Clinic, Vince began the spinal cord stimulator trial. The first day of the trial his pain decreased significantly, where he had virtually no pain. He was experiencing slight pressure from the implant process, but the pressure was nothing compared to the relief he received. After two or three days the pressure went away, and his pain was still drastically reduced to nearly 100% relief.

Vince now chooses to take the stairs, something he couldn’t do before the trial. He is now able to walk up five flights of stairs at a time and walk a mile with no pain. For a man once limited to his bed for days on end, to being able to climb a few flights of stairs, Vince knew the spinal cord stimulator was right for him.

“One of the wonderful things about spinal cord stimulation, is that you can try the device first!” Vince expresses. Besides pain relief, that was a big factor in Vince’s decision to go ahead with the trial. A spinal cord stimulation trial typically lasts 3-7 days, during this time you can determine whether the implant is right for you. “I wish I would have known about this option years ago and I am so thankful my doctor referred me to Twin Cities Pain Clinic.” Since the trial Vince’s quality of life has immensely improved. He can’t wait to go through with the implant of the spinal cord stimulator and to be active with his family again!

 

To learn more about spinal cord stimulation click here.

How to Have the Conversation With Your Doctor about Your Pain

When it comes to back and neck pain, there are few, if any, definitive tests that can accurately measure and diagnose the experience. Using an objective testing method such as an MRI or CT scan is nearly impossible when it comes to back and neck pain. Pain levels fluctuate, in terms of timing, intensity, and quality, which makes an MRI or CT scan pretty useless to get a true picture of what someone experiences on a day to day basis.

Preparing for the important conversation with your doctor comes as a big responsibility for you then. You have to let your doctor know all about the pain you are experiencing. One thing that can help is keeping a pain journal for about a week or weeks leading up to the appointment. Below are some important bits of information your doctor is going to want to understand during the diagnostic process.

Describe the pain

The quality of your pain may mean something about what is causing it. Trying to be as descriptive as possible when it comes to the pain you are feeling. Make sure to share if it is aching, burning, stabbing, throbbing, sharp, dull, cramping, or electrical sensations. The more expansive you can be with your language while keeping it accurate, the better your communication with your doctor will likely be.

It is also important to point out or explain exactly where you are feeling the pain. Sometimes where you are feeling the pain may not be exactly where it is coming from. If a nerve root is damaged the pain may radiate down an arm or leg but the arm or leg may not be the problem. If you have trigger points you may experience referred pain or pain located in an area that seems unrelated to the site of the problem.

It is also important to clarify the time of your pain. Note if it comes on suddenly or slowly over time, and if it is constantly present or only sometimes. Note if the pain is worse in the morning or at night. Also note if it gets better or worse after doing a specific activity such as sitting, standing, laying down or walking.

It is also important to let your doctor know if there are certain things you cannot do anymore because of the pain. If now you can’t take the stairs or if sleep has become troublesome are things your doctor will want to know.

Keeping a chronic pain journal will help you describe your symptoms to your doctor so they can more easily come up with a treatment plan for you. There are a variety of interventional therapies for people who suffer from acute or persistent pain. Being able to narrow down what could have caused your pain can help your appointment go as smoothly as possible.

Employee Spotlight: Kristin

Meet Kristin, Intake & Eligibility Representative at Twin Cities Pain Clinic! Kristin was nominated by her fellow staff members for her dedication to her job. Kristin came in with such a positive attitude and willingness to learn. Her great personality is a wonderful addition to the team! Thank you for all you do Kristin!

What is your position / What are your daily responsibilities?

I am an Intake & Eligibility Representative here at Twin Cities Pain Clinic. My responsibilities include scheduling new patients and verifying their insurance.

How long have you been with TCPC?

I have been working at TCPC for about 5 months and am loving every minute of it!

What are some of your hobbies?

I enjoy spending time at my cabin with my family and friends. I love cruising around the lake and waterskiing.

What is your favorite thing about working at TCPC?

My favorite thing about working at TCPC is the staff. I love how supportive everyone is and there is always someone willing to help when I need it! I am so lucky to be part of such a great team and I look forward to my future here at TCPC!

 

 

Twin Cities Pain Clinic has been named a Top Workplace by the Star Tribune. This great award wouldn't be possible without our amazing staff members. Your hard work does not go unnoticed.

The Best and Worst Foods for Persistent Pain

Certain types of food can cause inflammation in the body. When consuming these inflammatory causing foods for a long period of time, one’s risk of developing heart disease, diabetes, and pain syndromes increase. Chronic inflammation can even raise your risk of certain cancers and Alzheimer’s disease.  Switching to a diet that is free of inflammation causing foods can help reverse some of these conditions and reduce pain and inflammation.

Inflammation is described as the body’s response to an injury or an infection. You may experience the symptoms of pain, heat, redness, and swelling, otherwise known as acute inflammation. Other times, inflammation becomes chronic (think of it as happening over and over again), it then begins to wreak havoc on the body.

Unfortunately, you can’t see chronic inflammation. Over time, chronic inflammation can damage healthy cells and organs and cause constant pain in muscles, tissues, and joints.

Inflammation can be caused by a variety of different things. Genetics, stress, smoking, lack of exercise, and diet are all factors. Diet is a great starting point to focus on, especially since many believe a lot of diseases start in the “gut”.

It is a fact that when we are well nourished, we heal quicker. Unfortunately, many Americans consume inflammatory causing foods daily. Sugar, dairy, gluten, trans fat, and refined grains have become part of our every day meals, and all can cause inflammation. It is important to remember that inflammation is not caused by simply one or two foods, but an overall effect of a diet.

Switching your diet to one that consists of anti-inflammatory meals can be medicine for the body. Some basics of an anti-inflammatory diet are:

Try to eliminate:

  • Refined sugars and flours
  • Most omega-6 oils (such as corn, soybean, safflower, and sunflower oils)
  • Saturated or trans fats and fried foods
  • Processed meats
  • Reduce the amount of carbohydrates, especially processed carbs

Try to focus your dietary intake on:

  • Green leafy vegetables (kale, collards, spinach, broccoli, bok choy)
  • Tree nuts (walnuts and almonds)
  • Wild caught fatty fish that are high in omega-3 (salmon, mackerel and sardines)
  • Highly pigmented fruit (berries, pomegranate and cherries)

Food doesn’t have to be boring. Try eating a wide variety of foods by eating colors of the rainbow to make your plates bright and nutritious. When choosing food items aim for quality. Ideally that would be grass-fed and pasture raised meats, as they support the highest nutrient levels. Aim for organic and non-GMO (genetically modified organisms) foods when possible. And try to also consume dairy products and red meat in limited quantities.

Eating a nutritious diet may not completely eliminate your chronic pain, but it is a step in the right direction that you can control. Switching to an anti-inflammatory diet can help reverse or reduce some conditions such as developing heart disease, diabetes, and pain syndromes. There is no magical food that can make everything better, but, eating the right combination of foods can help produce remarkable results.