Trigger Point Injections Give St. Augusta Woman MS Pain Relief

Pain Center
“I had all I could do to get six hours of work in during the day. There was no cooking, there was … nothing.”

Tammy Ahmann was 31 years old when she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS). After suffering from vertigo and chronic pain for years, she finally found a solution to help minimize her symptoms.

‘My MS diagnosis was devastating. It was shocking. It was hard,” Tammy recalled.

That was in 2007. The wife and mother of two said, “I was tired, but I still had good days and bad days.”

She had relapsing-remitting MS (RRMS), a form of the disease known for periods of worsening symptoms followed by partial or total recovery. Even with her diagnosis, she was able to continue working full-time.

Roughly a decade later, her condition started declining. “Everything came crashing in and I went from RRMS to primary-progressive MS (PPMS).”

PPMS is a type of MS that causes a gradual worsening of symptoms without remission. She was experiencing fatigue, headaches, and pain in her neck, back and stomach. She went from working 40 hours a week to 28 hours.

“I had all I could do to get six hours of work in during the day. There was no cooking, there was … nothing,” she said.

One evening Tammy and her husband, Brent, watched their son play football for Tech High School. That’s when she noticed something wasn’t right.

“We were sitting, and I felt like I was getting off a ride at the fair. We walked to the parking lot and the whole world felt like it tipped 45 degrees. No matter what I tried to do, I couldn’t walk straight.”

Brent helped get her home and for the next four days, she remembers feeling like she had vertigo. Figuring her symptoms were related to MS, she decided not to seek emergency treatment.

“I’d been through it enough. If it lasts for three or four days, then it’s probably an MS thing.”

Tammy followed up with her neurologist and was told her episode of dizziness was like a traumatic brain injury. As a result, she couldn’t see very well, she couldn’t drive anymore, and she had trouble walking. She underwent a year of physical therapy (PT) to relearn how to walk. But she still had neck, back and stomach pain.

“We did all sorts of stuff. I did vision therapy, acupuncture, massages, emotional release … I did everything you could think of,” she recalled.

Some nights the pain in Tammy’s neck would be so bad she couldn’t sleep. She felt hopeless. “The MS, the balance, and the fatigue are one thing — the constant pain is another.”

That’s when her medical team recommended that she seek help from Jenine Graham, APRN, CNP, at CentraCare Neurosciences Pain Center.

Jenine specializes in pain management. Through shared decision-making, she helps patients identify their best available treatment options.

“I was at my end. I had no hope for her whatsoever,” Tammy admitted.

The patient had been to a handful of other clinics across Minnesota and unfortunately, none of them were able to help with her pain. Even though Tammy was skeptical, she made an appointment at the Pain Center to see Janine in November 2022.

“When we went to see her the very first day, she blew me out of the water … she wanted to try these things called trigger point injections (TPI).”

TPI shots help soothe painful knots in muscle tissue, especially in a person’s neck, shoulder, arms, legs and lower back.

Tammy reported immediate pain relief within 30 seconds after receiving her first injection.

“My shoulders dropped over an inch … I couldn’t believe it … my neck was moving … my headache was gone. I was in shock.”

Tammy and her nurse went over a treatment plan which included monthly injections. She reported feeling like she was heard for the first time and treated according to her individual situation.

“When I was talking to her, you could see the wheels spinning … She told me we were going to get me back to where I wanted to be. Just talking about it gave me goosebumps.”

Tammy and her husband decided to book a vacation to the Dominican Republic in February 2023. That was the first vacation she’d been on in years.

“Our vacation was so awesome … we always wanted to go somewhere tropical. We’re going again in January!”

Tammy makes an appointment at the Pain Center a few days before she has big plans to keep her pain in check. At first, she was getting shots every four weeks. Now, Tammy can go longer stretches without the injections — receiving them every six weeks.

“Just knowing we can get to that point of relief … is hope.”