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Grateful to Be Pain-Free, Doc Enjoys Hunting and Fishing

Doc Monical

Doc Monical (“Doc”) returned from a fun four-day cruise early in 2018 with more than great memories of scenic adventures: the pain in his left leg was getting more severe.

“The pain in my leg from sciatica was worse,” he recalls, “and I needed to find a solution.”

Sciatica is a term that describes the symptoms of leg pain – which can include burning, lightning shocks, tingling or numbness – that originates in the lower back and travels down the sciatic nerve in the back of each leg.

A lumbar MRI showed Doc had narrowing around several nerve roots in his lumbar spine, so he was referred to Jason Chen, DO, a pain management specialist at Memorial Hermann. “I immediately had confidence in Dr. Chen,” says Doc. “He is a great diagnostician, very professional and his level of care is superior.  I knew I was in the right place.”

Dr. Chen performed a specialized epidural steroid injection on Doc in mid-March 2018.  “An anti-inflammatory medication was injected around the irritated lumbar nerve roots to give Doc relief from his pain,” says Dr. Chen.  “The procedure is conducted under dynamic X-ray to pinpoint and treat the specific problem areas shown in the MRI.  I am pleased that there was less than one week from Doc’s initial appointment regarding his diagnosis until the injection.  My staff makes sure our patients receive the care they need as quickly as possible.”

After the injection, Doc worked hard during physical therapy through the Memorial Hermann IRONMAN Sports Medicine Institute, where he focused on core strengthening techniques twice a week. 

“I can’t believe how quickly I bounced back after the procedure,” he notes. “Several days after the injection, I was able to attend a long-range rifle shooting school that included considerable physical activity.”

Doc advises anyone battling severe pain to get evaluated by a specialist.  “I know people delay going to a doctor because they are afraid to find out what is causing the pain and they think surgery is the only choice.  I am proof that there are excellent noninvasive solutions for pain.  I just wish I had not waited a month before seeing a doctor.”

Dr. Chen explains that this procedure can offer long-lasting relief, and it may be helpful for young athletic individuals in their 20s-30s who have spine pain, who have not been treated by a pain management specialist and have not had a spine surgery.  “The procedure may also be effective for middle-age individuals in their 40s-60s who have spine pain, who haven’t been treated by pain management specialists and who have not had a spine surgery,” he says.

Doc, who has always been athletic, is savoring a pain-free life.  An avid outdoorsman, he especially enjoys his time hunting and fishing.  “Dr. Chen helped me get back on track with my life without surgery,” he explains. “I am as active as ever, and when I went fishing in the bay recently I was just fine, even with so much standing.”

Doc, now back 100 percent, remains committed to a healthy lifestyle. “It’s important for all of us to not take our body for granted and to take care of it,” he says. “We need to stay as healthy as possible and, as corny as it sounds, treat our body like a temple.”