July 17, 2018

St. Vincent Charity Radiant Blog: Outpatient procedure helps patients take control of arthritis pain

The Spine and Orthopedic Institute at St. Vincent Charity Medical Center can offer alternatives to surgery for those suffering from severe arthritis in the back and joints. One patient of the institute recently told her story in the hospital’s Radiant blog, describing how a non-invasive cooled, radiofrequency spinal ablation treatment helped relieve her chronic back pain.

The full text of the article is below or available here. St. Vincent Charity Medical Center is a ministry of the Sisters of Charity Health System.

Outpatient Procedure Helps Patients Take Control of Arthritis Pain

Those suffering from severe arthritis in the back and joints know the disease dictates the day. The pain takes control of the schedule, deciding if a simple trip to the grocery store, to run errands or to perform household chores is even possible.

That is what Sandra Sena, who suffers from degenerative arthritis, found even after undergoing two surgeries that included spine fusion and rods and screws being placed in her lower back. While she felt better after both surgeries, because of her disease, the pain returned and she felt like she was losing control of her life again.

“I stopped doing all the daily little things. I thought ‘I can’t do this’ because it hurt so badly,” Sandra said.

Sandra found herself strategizing her day to take the minimum amount of steps. She would search for a parking spot close to the entrance as she pulled into the grocery store or the mall. It there wasn’t one, she drove away without doing her errands, knowing she would never be able to make it into the store and back. She woke up each day prioritizing the one thing she would do because that was all her back could take. With every step she took, every minute she stood, the pain was the first thing on her mind. 

“It is hard to describe how you feel to someone who hasn’t felt this pain, but your life just spirals,” she said. “I felt bad, couldn’t move, couldn’t do the things I needed to do, let alone the things I wanted to do. Then, because I couldn’t do anything, I put on weight, which made it all worse. It all snowballs – I just felt like I couldn’t get out of this rut.”

Feeling discouraged and a little helpless, Sandra turned to St. Vincent Charity Medical Center’s Dr. George Friedhoff in search of an alternative to surgery to relieve her pain. 

Dr. Friedhoff performed a cooled, radiofrequency spinal ablation, a state of the art non-invasive outpatient treatment option for those suffering chronic back and joint pain. Dr. Friedhoff was able to target and burn the nerves causing Sandra’s pain. Studies have shown the treatment provides patients with up to 24 months of pain relief and improved physical function without the months of rehabilitation, risk of infection and hospitalization associated with surgery.

Almost immediately after the ablation procedure, Sandra found relief from her pain. More importantly, she took back control of her life.

On a day several months after the procedure, Sandra said, “Today I was able to get up, clean my house, make the beds, do three loads of laundry and then head out to the grocery store and do my other errands. It sounds so simple, but it’s not when you suffer from chronic pain.”

Sandra’s return to activity and her overall sense of feeling better has enabled her to lose virtually all of the 40 pounds she gained while in pain and to stop taking daily pain medication. Sandra’s greatest joy has been returning to the game of golf, which she now plays – virtually pain free – approximately five days a week with her husband and friends.

“So many people suffer from the pain I felt, so I highly recommend this procedure for those searching to get their lives back,” Sandra said. “I am feeling so good, I amaze myself. Sometimes I even forget what it was like to live in pain every day.”

To learn more about spinal and joint ablation or to schedule an appointment, contact Dr. Friedhoff’s office at the Spine and Orthopedic Institute at St. Vincent Charity Medical Center at 216.369.2800.

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