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Treating Pain & Changing Lives

Nobody wants to live in pain. The patients featured in these stories suffered real pain and wanted their lives back — so they took action. And so can you.

Patient Success Story

Chronic Back Pain

30 years of serving his country all came to an end after the pain from a lingering back injury caught up with John Richardson. The pain became progressively worse. By the end of his assignment year in East Africa, he had severe pain and numbness. His physical condition forced him to retire. “I wasn't able to stand or sit for long periods of time, and pain degraded my ability to concentrate,” he said. John took action and found relief.

Read More Success Stories

Salwa Elbassioni thought she might never stand up again. At 77, she found herself suffering from excruciating pain in her lower back and abdomen. Over the course of six months, she saw seven different doctors, including two gastroenterologists, in her effort to resolve the pain. “I did everything you could imagine to try to get relief,” she recalled. Eventually, Salwa visited National Spine & Pain Centers’ McLean, VA office, where an MRI revealed she had a compression fracture in her back. Because she has osteoporosis, it was clear that the bone in Salwa’s back had essentially crumbled and collapsed. Salwa initially tried a back brace, then a lumbar facet joint injection and an epidural injection. But those efforts brought only minimal, short-term relief. So Dr. Daniel Kendall encouraged Salwa to consider kyphoplasty, a minimally invasive procedure that could result in permanent relief. Using x-ray guidance, Dr. Kendall guided a needle to the fractured bone and then inserted a small, orthopedic balloon into the vertebra and inflated the balloon to raise the collapsed bone to regain height. He removed the balloon and filled the resulting cavity with a special cement that stabilized the vertebra, making it among the strongest bones in…

- Salwa Elbassioni

Deb Crocker has been plagued with severe Rheumatoid Arthritis(RA) for years. The pain in her joints, especially her shoulders, hands and feet, has been so bad at times that she has even been hospitalized for it. As if her RA isn’t challenging enough, Deb also suffers from Graves disease. Complications from the condition cause her to have difficulty closing her eyes completely, and this can lead to excruciating headaches and serious eye infections. The complications from her RA and Graves disease eventually forced Deb to go on disability insurance because she was unable to drive or work. Without a job, she could not afford the expensive biologic medication her rheumatologist prescribed to treat her RA. “I would have lost my house trying to pay for it,” she said. Then she saw Danielle S. Cherrick M.D. at National Spine & Pain Centers’ Alexandria, Virginia office. On her first visit, Deb described her pain level as eight on a scale of 10. Dr. Cherrick listened as Deb told her how the pain was causing her to become increasingly depressed and anxious about simply leaving her house. Dr. Cherrick saw an opportunity to address Deb’s physical and emotional pain. She began by administering…

- Deb Crocker

Six years ago, at the age of 47, Debbie Cunningham suddenly started to experience terrible body pain, particularly in her back and down her left leg. At first, her doctors thought she had over exerted herself while preparing to run a marathon. But the pain never abated. It got worse—so much worse that within four months Debbie was using a cane and then a walker for support. “My entire life changed and so did my family’s because I couldn’t do the things they were used to me doing,” Debbie recalled. In the process of trying to resolve her pain, Debbie estimates she saw anywhere from 25 to 30 specialists. At one point, it was believed her pain was due to fibromyalgia, but her rheumatologist eventually suspected that her chronic pain was caused by something else, so he referred her to Dr. David C. Levi, an interventional pain specialist at Pain & Spine Specialists of Connecticut. He diagnosed Debbie with lumbar spondylosis and degenerative disc disease. But he did more than that: he gave Debbie hope. “Dr. Levi told me, ‘We are going to do whatever it takes to get you better. You’re too young to be in this much pain…

- Debbie Cunningham

Joe Green admits that he has abused his body for a long time. His career as a construction worker has left him with aches and pains that reach from his head to his toes. He has fallen off roofs three times, torn ligaments in both of his knees, has arthritis in his back and if that isn’t enough, he also has late-stage Lyme disease. “If you could put a new skeleton in me, I’d be fine,” he says. Yet he can make light of his injuries for the first time in a long time because of the care he is getting at National Spine & Pain Centers. After many years of trying to self-medicate for his debilitating back pain, Joe finally did go see a doctor. But it was not a positive experience. He felt as though he was not listened to or respected. And he was still in pain. So one day when an advertisement for National Spine & Pain Centers caught his eye, Joe decided to give doctors one more try. It proved to be completely different from his previous experience. "From the first time I went there, it has been great." Joe met first with Physician Assistant…

- Joe Green

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