PBS Star Martha Pullen Conquers Lower Back Pain with Tennessee Valley Pain Consultants

TVPC is restoring quality of life with advanced non-surgical solutions for low back pain

This story has been shared with permission of all parties involved.

Martha Pullen poses with some of her sewing projectsMartha Pullen, a leader in the heirloom sewing industry, knows the importance of pin point precision. That’s what led her to choose the anesthesiologists at Tennessee Valley Pain Consultants when she needed spinal injections for pain four years ago.

Martha, a north Alabama native and entrepreneur since age 14, turned her passion of sewing into a multi-million dollar company, hosting a TV show on PBS, founding Sew Beautiful magazine and leading conventions locally and globally.

Travel was a way of life for Martha until 2013 when she began experiencing intense back and radicular leg pain. The pain prevented her from sitting for more than 30 minutes at a time and began to significantly inhibit her work and lifestyle.

“I was afraid to drive or board a plane,” Martha said. “The pain was completely affecting my way of life and ability to travel for my business.” Refusing to let pain limit her, Martha went to Tennessee Valley Pain Consultants at Huntsville Hospital for an evaluation. Martha saw anesthesiologist Dr. Ronald Collins who ordered an MRI of her lumbar spine revealing spinal stenosis. Spinal stenosis is a common spinal condition where there is narrowing of the spinal canal often presenting with radiating leg symptoms.

“I was afraid to drive or board a plane,” Martha said. “The pain was completely affecting my way of life and ability to travel for my business.”

Dr. Collins recommended a series of lumbar epidural steroid injections as well as physical therapy for her condition. Epidural steroid injections are a non-surgical treatment option for patients experiencing neck and back pain and are particularly beneficial for treating radiating pain. It was determined Martha was not a surgical candidate, which made injection therapy her pathway for pain relief.

Relief for Martha’s Leg & Lower Back Pain

Martha Pullen poses with some of her sewing projects

Dr. Collins pin pointed the spinal level producing her pain using real-time fluoroscopic x-ray guidance and injected a steroid-anesthetic bathing the painful nerve with soothing medication. “Patients suffering with back and neck pain like Martha can find relief with non-surgical interventions such as injection therapy,” Dr. Collins said. “Our goal is to treat patients with a minimally invasive approach.”

Martha was able to return to business travel almost immediately after receiving her first injection. She has continued traveling across the country and globe with a new focus – teaching entrepreneurship and resilience.

“It was miraculous,” Martha said. “Literally, the next day I was able to get back on a plane and continue my business. One block will relieve my pain completely for 3-4 months and sometimes up to one year.”

Experience life without chronic lower back pain

Pain relief is transformational for many patients who suffer with persistent spine and extremity pain as Martha did. Nearly 100 million people in the United States suffer with chronic pain—more than those living with diabetes, heart disease and cancer combined. Due to its subjective nature, pain is often difficult to measure but important to address. Pain serves as the body’s “warning signal” for a problem requiring attention.

“Our goal, besides managing pain with medication when appropriate, is to treat the pain at its source,” anesthesiologist Dr. Morris Scherlis said. “This often involves injections to precise pain generators and can markedly improve a patient’s quality of life.”