“I hadn’t really tried anything for the pain,” she replied. “I was just living with it.”

In November 2022, Judi Althoff, Surgery Receptionist at GMHC, had been experiencing pain in her lower back that just seemed to come out of nowhere. It was a very debilitating pain that caused her to have to get ‘psyched up’ just to get out of a chair. “I would then have to get my bearings and I couldn’t walk without pain and limping, so it took me a long time to get anywhere,” Judi added. “I walk for exercise, and it was taking me 25 minutes to walk a mile.” 

Judi had never had back pain in her life before this, and since there is a pain clinic right here at GMHC where she works, she decided to see if they could help her. They first started with trigger points by placing a needle with steroids and numbing medicine in the area that hurt.

Judi then had an MRI which showed a bulging disc and arthritis in her back. An epidural steroid injection was given to treat the pain in these areas but would take 10-14 days to take effect. Once that pain was under control, a different pain emerged in another area of her lower back. For a while, it was treated with Tylenol and Ibuprofen. Lumbar X-rays revealed that a facet joint in her spine was pressing on a nerve and causing the pain.

The next step was to test her left side, since there was more pain on that side which also traveled down her leg. A numbing agent was injected that lasted for 3-4 hours. If her pain stayed away, the test would be repeated. After two successful attempts to keep the pain controlled, she was a candidate for radio frequency treatment (RF).

For the RF treatment, needles were inserted into the nerve that was causing pain, the nerve was “burned” and the pain disappeared. After about a week, Judi’s pain was completely gone. That was in March 2023. Now in October 2023, she remains pain-free. If the pain should return within two years of treatment, she can have the RF again without going through all the pre-testing.

“It is so nice to have this treatment available,” Judi commented. “It has helped me significantly because I am no longer living with all that pain and discomfort. I would recommend anyone with unwanted pain to check out the Pain Clinic at GMHC.” 

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