Timothy Sternberg

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Timothy Sternberg
Dr.
D.M.D., M.D.
Jacksonville
Pain Management
Heekin Orthopedic Specialists
2627 Riverside Ave. Ste. 300
Jacksonville
FL
32204

My 84 year old mother has extreme back pain and her doctor told her she has a compression fracture. Can anything be done?

I am sorry about your mother; vertebral compression fractures can be extremely painful. They usually occur in post-menopausal women over age 50, though can occur in men also. The most important contributing factor is osteoporosis. Beside back pain, compression fractures can reduce pulmonary and physical functioning, decrease quality of life, and cause an abnormal stooped hunched-back appearance. Analgesics and a back brace can be tried, though the braces are sometimes difficult, especially for older patients. The most effective therapy is kyphoplasty, a relatively straightforward minimally invasive procedure where a small balloon reestablishes the bone contour and medical “cement” is injected to fixate the bone. Besides your mother being checked, and probably treated for, osteoporosis, you should be checked as well, as osteoporosis tends to run in families.

 My 68 year old mother had shingles recently. The rash has cleared up but she still is in terrible pain. Can anything be done?

It is understandable that your mother is suffering, as this form of pain, post-herpetic neuralgia, can be severe and distressing. Post-herpetic neuralgia follows a bout of herpes zoster, commonly known as shingles. The pain is commonly burning, numbing, and sometimes itchy. It generally becomes noticeable as the rash is healing. Fortunately, treatment is available. There are now some medications which are usually effective for this condition. When medications are ineffective, or produce bothersome side effects, certain nerve ganglion, or precisely placed epidural, injections can be very helpful. Going forward, she, as well as her friends over 60 years old, should consider the zoster (shingles) vaccine to prevent post-herpetic neuralgia.

 My neurologist told me I have spasticity. I am on muscle relaxants but I still have muscle spasms and tightness that prevent me from doing the things I need to do. Can anything else be done?

Spasticity, increased tightness of muscles, as well as muscle spasms, can be caused by multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy, strokes, or brain and spinal cord damage. Standard treatment would include physical therapy, including daily stretching, and muscle relaxants. Muscle relaxants that could be used include oral diazepam (Valium), tizanidine (Zanaflex), and baclofen (Lioresal). If those oral medications are not sufficiently beneficial, spinal baclofen, administered by an implanted pump, can be a very effective option.

Timothy Sternberg
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