New pain treatment helps patients with severe, targeted pain

Victim of Highland Park shooting credits dorsal root ganglion stimulator with bringing her relief

Liz Turnipseed of Highland Park has found some relief from her severe pain through a new pain treatment, a dorsal root ganglion stimulator.

LAKE FOREST – On July 4, 2022, Liz Turnipseed of Highland Park was ready to enjoy the holiday with her family and watch her community’s parade.

That came to a crashing halt when gunshots were fired. Turnipseed was hit and her life changed forever.

Despite suffering gunshot wounds to her leg and pelvis and lying on the street, Turnipseed was able to make sure her daughter was taken to safety. Turnipseed was taken by ambulance to Northwestern Medicine Lake Forest Hospital and spent several days undergoing tests and gunshot wound injury assessments.

While tests revealed no organs or bones were directly hit, Turnipseed had significant nerve and tissue damage from the trauma. She suffered from a more than 14-centimeter wound in the back of her leg that went all the way through, requiring months of intense recovery and therapy.

In addition, she had shrapnel in her body that affected the ability to target specific nerves because of a lack of MRI imaging. MRIs aren’t possible when shrapnel metal is lodged in the body.

Turnipseed was in and out of the hospital for months for wound care, but still found herself in continual, significant pain. After several months of enduring pain from the injury, she was told to see Dr. Jason Ross, anesthesiology and pain management at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, to discuss potential treatments to help alleviate her pain.

After trying a number of injections and medications that offered mild, short-term relief, it wasn’t enough to make a significant improvement and still affected her day-to-day life.

“I was in constant pain,” Turnipseed said in a news release. “And if I had to do something that would require walking or moving, I knew that I would have to pay the price the following day or two. It was a terrible way to live. The pain controlled my everyday life and as a mom to a young daughter, it not only took a physical toll on me, but it was a constant mental issue for me as well.”

Ross then suggested she consider a dorsal root ganglion stimulator. DRG is a two-part procedure that involves surgically placing a stimulator targeting the dorsal root ganglion to relieve pain of the pelvis. The patient then uses a hand-held iPod or an app on the iPhone that helps the patient control the stimulation settings within prescribed limits.

DRG is a neuromodulation that is similar in concept to spinal cord stimulation, but the difference is the dorsal root ganglion is targeted. Traditional spinal cord stimulation has been around for 60 years, and while it helps many, it’s not always effective for certain focal pain points, pelvic pain and foot pain. DRG is a newer treatment that has helped fill that void.

After the procedure, Turnipseed felt immediate relief and was in tears of joy instead of pain.

She has noticed a huge improvement in her pain levels. She can walk longer distances and has more energy to care for her child.

“When I first met Liz, she could barely stand and had to use a cane for walking. Now she is standing and walking without a cane, nearly pain-free. It’s incredible to see,” Ross said in the release.

For more information, go to www.nm.org.

Shaw Local News Network

Shaw Local News Network

Shaw Local News Network provides local news throughout northern Illinois