July 28, 2021

Randy Hermanson, center, counts on Michael Muchiri, APRN, CNP, and Dr. Ifechi Anyadioha to treat and manage his back pain at the Mankato Clinic Pain Management Center. 

Randy Hermanson of North Mankato worked for roughly 15 years in factories where he made elevator parts and brake parts for heavy equipment. His back pain was so severe that there were days when he was almost in tears at the end of the day.

“That was before I realized how tender my situation was,” Randy said.

Randy, who is now 60 years old, has endured six back surgeries and lived with pain for the better part of 40 years. Life got so much better when he began treatment at the Pain Management Center.

“I don’t know what would have happened to me if I wouldn’t have found the Pain Management Center. Dr. Ifechi has given me my life back. I can’t imagine what I’d be doing today if it weren’t for him,” Randy said. “I can spend quality time with my granddaughters. If they’re playing dolls or trucks, I can do that. I can play with them. It’s so much more than I ever dreamed it could be.”

Randy has two children and two grandchildren, age 2 and 4. When he visits his grandchildren, he takes them to the playground and watches them on the swing set and merry-go-round. Something Randy never thought was possible.

About eight years ago, Randy’s primary care provider at Mankato Clinic-North Mankato Family Medicine referred him to the Pain Management Center. Ifechi Anyadioha, MD, gives Randy epidural steroid injections to treat his low and mid-back pain. Occasionally Randy gets injections in the sacroiliac joint. This joint absorbs shock between the upper body and the pelvis and legs. The injections are usually performed every 3-6 months as they do not treat pain permanently.

“Dr. Ifechi is so precise. I’m listening now when he is talking to the nurses. It’s almost like they’re landing a plane. He’s kind of a kidding fellow. He knows I have a sense of humor. He does that to ease my comfort level and my anxiety when I’m getting these shots,” Randy said.

To identify the root of the patient’s pain, Dr. Ifechi uses a detailed history and physical exam, as well as diagnostic studies like CT Scans, X-rays, MRIs, EMG (electromyography) and other studies.

“This is a very important aspect of chronic pain management because providing effective relief is highly dependent on correctly identifying the origin or pain generator,” Dr. Ifechi explained.

Randy Hermanson (right) sees Michael muchiri, APRN, CNP, at the Pain Management Center every month to review medication, schedule injfections and make sure the treatment plan is working well. 

Randy’s treatment plan includes a combination of injections and oral medications. This treatment plan allows Randy to stay mobile. Prior to these treatments, Randy couldn’t move without excruciating pain. With this plan in place, the pain is tolerable as long as he doesn’t overdo it and follows restrictions.

Between injections, Randy sees Michael Muchiri, APRN, CNP, every month to ensure he is using his medication properly, to schedule his next injection, and receive other treatments if needed.  

“Pain management often requires more than medication management. Most patients benefit from a multidisciplinary treatment approach which includes cognitive behavioral therapy and interdisciplinary rehabilitation such as physical therapy, occupational therapy, chronic pain coping therapy, non-opioid therapy and implantable therapies as preferred first-line treatment for chronic pain treatment. Depending on the patient’s response to the treatment plan, we do recommend surgical consult with spine surgeon and or neurosurgery,” Michael explained.

Patients on pain medication are required to see Michael every month.

“I think that proves that they are very intent on taking care of you instead of here you go and out the door with you,” Randy said. “They’re not just doctors. That’s a support team. I couldn’t do this without them.”

Treatments at the Mankato Clinic Pain Management Center allow Randy Harmanson to stay mobile and enjoy the scenery. 

Relief & hope

Randy’s back surgeries began in 1989 with his final surgery in 2019. In his early surgeries, it was his understanding that he had ruptured and herniated discs. He thought it would be no big deal and he’d be back to playing softball – his favorite sport in the world, but that wasn’t to be.

In many of the surgeries, bone spurs and calcification or hardening of the discs were present. In 2019, his neurosurgeon diagnosed him with diffuse idiopathic skeletal hypertosis (DISH). DISH, sometimes called Forestier disease, is a type of arthritis that affects tendons and ligaments around the spine. The bands of tissue become hardened or calcified and form bone spurs. In addition, Randy has nerve damage from his spinal issues.

“When you’re in pain constantly, it affects everything. You don’t want to do much. You feel you can’t do much,” Randy said.

Now that his pain is under control, he can live his life, go fishing on occasion and spend time with his family. Sometimes, he’ll head to the ballpark to watch the guys play softball. Or take in a Twins game at Big Dog in North Mankato while he has a soda and appetizer.

Randy’s advice to others living in pain is don’t give up and think there’s nothing that can be done for the pain.   

“Talk with your primary care provider. They don’t know what we’re living until we let them know. Dr. Andrew Miller’s been very supportive,” Randy said. “Get a doctor you can relay things to. Communicating is so key in this because pain is so misunderstood. Pain management is real. It’s serious.”

If you are living in pain, see your primary care provider for a referral to the Pain Managment Center. Learn more about the Mankato Clinic Pain Management Center.