Resource Blog/Media/MNI Goyal Weiselberg Pain HERO


Kendall Resident Finds Relief from Chronic Pain; Enjoys Life Again

Baptist Health Miami Neuroscience Institute

When Scott Wieselberg was hit by a motorcycle while riding his bike in Miami Beach, he never imagined it would take nearly eight years to find relief from the excruciating and chronic pain that came with his many injuries. Today, he has resumed an active lifestyle, thanks to a unique approach by doctors at Baptist Health Miami Neuroscience Institute.


“I was on a cocktail of opiates and other medications that I did not want to be on,” Mr. Wieselberg recalls. “I lived for years with shoulder, neck and back pain. For somebody that never had a cavity before, it was shocking.”


More than 50 million Americans suffer from chronic pain, according to the National Institutes of Health. Causes include accidents like Mr. Wieselberg’s, autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and lupus, conditions including fibromyalgia and nerve damage, illnesses like cancer and Guillain-Barré syndrome, sports injuries and herniated disks. Even a sedentary lifestyle can cause problems because a lack of exercise can weaken the core muscles that help prevent back pain.


Mr. Wieselberg immediately underwent emergency surgery at another local hospital for his traumatic injuries that included a shattered humerus, the long bone in the upper arm, and other fractures. But it was after his initial two-week hospital stay that he began noticing problems with his neck and spine. He also experienced shooting pains down his legs.


Before finding his way to physicians at Baptist Health South Miami Hospital, Mr. Wieselberg, 55, had tried numerous treatments and therapies and all but given up on living pain-free.


Akshay Goyal, M.D., pain management specialist at Baptist Health Miami Neuroscience Institute


“Many patients are at a loss in this situation,” says Akshay Goyal, M.D., a pain management specialist at Miami Neuroscience Institute. “We really want to focus on the source of the pain, and often our specialty can offer patients procedures, medications or therapies that other specialists are not familiar with.”


After further imaging studies, Dr. Goyal determined that Mr. Wieselberg had an acceleration of arthritis in the joints of his neck and back attributed to his accident, and multiple disk herniations that resulted in nerve root displacement or irritation. Epidural injections helped pinpoint the precise location of the nerve damage and he called upon his colleague, Jason Liounakos, M.D., a neurosurgeon who is part of Miami Neuroscience Institute, to address their patient’s lower back and leg pain.


Jason Liounakos, M.D., spinal neurosurgeon and director of outpatient spine surgery at Baptist Health Miami Neuroscience Institute


“Mr. Wieselberg had been suffering with chronic right leg pain, also known as sciatica, that continued despite maximum conservative treatments including medications, physical therapy and an epidural injection,” Dr. Liounakos says. “After evaluating Mr. Wieselberg in the clinic, it was evident that he was suffering from what we specifically refer to as lumbar 5 radiculopathy that correlated to his MRI, which showed severe compression of the lumbar 5 nerve root as a result of degenerative spine disease.”


In addition to pain, lumbar radiculopathy can also cause numbness, tingling and weakness in the legs. In March of 2023, Dr. Liounakos performed a minimally invasive decompressive surgery called a foraminotomy and Mr. Wieselberg went home the same day.


Next, to attack the neck pain Dr. Goyal used radiofrequency ablation, also known as radiofrequency neurotomy. “This involves placing a small needle through the skin to deliver thermal energy to the targeted nerves,” Dr. Goyal explains. “The heat ablates or burns a tiny area of the nerve to destroy it and disrupt its ability to send pain signals to the brain. It’s not a novel procedure, but it’s important that it be done by a skilled physician.”


Radiofrequency ablation and epidural injections are generally very low risk and can be completed in less than 20 minutes with local anesthesia or a mild sedative, Dr. Goyal says. “There are a number of other treatments, such as spinal cord stimulation and neuromodulation, that we can also offer patients. When we can reduce the pain, they are able to do the physical therapy and rehabilitation required to improve their health.”


In all the visits to doctors not affiliated with Baptist Health, none ever suggested radiofrequency ablation, Mr. Wieselberg says. The multi-disciplinary approach offered at Miami Neuroscience Institute, with pain medicine specialists, neurosurgeons and neurologists, specialized physical therapists and other healthcare providers working closely together, is not just convenient for patients, but very important in their recovery, Dr. Goyal adds.


Scott Wieselberg with Ashkar Goyal, M.D., following his treatment at Baptist Health Miami Neuroscience Institute


“It’s very rewarding to collaborate with our team and see a patient make progress,” he says. “Sometimes, it’s an older patient who just wants to be able to do the grocery shopping. Other times it’s an athlete who wants to get back in the game. We are happy to help, no matter a patient’s goals.”


Mr. Wieselberg is an ideal patient, Dr. Goyal explains, because he is motivated to work hard, even walking from his Kendall-area home to doctors’ appointments. “He knows that physical therapy and the work he does outside of the procedure room is as important to his recovery as treatment.”


Thrilled with his progress, Mr. Wieselberg will continue to undergo conservative treatment. “I am feeling great. I am pain-free 99 percent of the time and I’m off almost all of my pain medications,” he says. “I have seen many doctors and gone to many hospitals since my accident, and Baptist Health and South Miami Hospital are the best.”


To learn more about Miami Neuroscience Institute and the pain management program, click here.

Healthcare that Cares

With internationally renowned centers of excellence, 12 hospitals, more than 27,000 employees, 4,000 physicians and 200 outpatient centers, urgent care facilities and physician practices spanning across Miami-Dade, Monroe, Broward and Palm Beach counties, Baptist Health is an anchor institution of the South Florida communities we serve.

Language Preference / Preferencia de idioma

I want to see the site in English

Continue In English

Quiero ver el sitio en Español

Continuar en español