Barbara's story

Pain Center
“Dr. Kaul was awesome and took the time to look at me as an individual.”

Active, happy and free from back pain

Barbara Klein, a 58-year-old woman, from Clearwater, has struggled with back pain on and off throughout her life. “In the last year or so it became a big problem with low back pain and everything that goes with it — radiating pain into my legs — and sometimes, I couldn’t move.”

“I usually avoid going to the doctor until I’m at death’s door, but I finally went in and my doctor ordered an MRI,” Barbara said. Barbara has a history of severe scoliosis and arthritis. The MRI also showed bulging discs impinging on nerves.

Barbara had a steroid injection and the results were immediate. The pain went away for a week. “But then I did some gardening and it wiped out all the good effects I had gotten from the injection,” she said. “I was in constant pain and couldn’t do a thing.”

“When I called my doctor, they referred me to a neurosurgeon, which scared the daylights out of me,” Barbara said. “I didn’t want surgery. I’ve also been to a pain clinic before and I didn’t want to take opioids.”

Barbara’s health insurance recommended she see a designated spine specialist (DSS) before seeing a neurosurgeon. A DSS is a non-surgical clinician with advanced training and expertise in spine care. They are trained in specialties such as physical medicine and rehabilitation, occupational medicine, sports medicine and other related fields. Barbara saw Sakshi Kaul, MD, with the CentraCare Neurosciences Pain Center, through a video visit.

“Dr. Kaul was awesome and took the time to look at me as an individual. She asked me about my movement throughout day. I told her what I do, and she showed me the correct way to bend, lift, twist and reach,” Barbara said. “She aimed the camera at herself and did each exercise to show me. Everything she said made so much sense.”

“We also talked about nutrition, foods and supplements. I tend to lean toward natural treatments. At the end of my first appointment, I told her how much I appreciated her not throwing pills at me. ‘I’ll give it a really good try,’” I said.

“At first I had to practice my exercises and consciously think about what I was doing. But eventually it became a habit. Pretty soon I realized I hadn’t had any pain for a solid week. That hadn’t happened in I don’t know how long. I was active and happy,” Barbara said.

Barbara, who practiced as a nurse, also has grown through her experience. “Looking back on my training, a holistic approach to any medical issue was taught and encouraged. As a nurse you’re working on one problem and the next — I didn’t always consider the whole picture,” she said.

“Dr. Kaul truly practices that way. I learned from her too. I never would have expected that in one month I’d be where I am right now. My husband and I can now ride the Harley and spend more time together doing what we enjoy.”

“I think Barbara’s story is an amazing testament to the power of the body’s natural ability to heal itself when you treat it the way it wants to be treated,” Dr. Kaul said. “It takes a lot of dedication to change habits but once those habits are changed for the better, the body gives thanks!”

At her second video visit, a month later, Barbara was almost in tears, “I was better than I could have ever wished for,” she said. “Her plan was completely personalized for me. I didn’t want pills or surgery — this is exactly what I was looking for.”