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ST. LOUIS – A St. Louis doctor is one of the first in the world to offer groundbreaking therapy for diabetic neuropathy. 

The therapy means a local woman can now live pain-free. 

Marla Lang has had diabetic neuropathy for 30 years.

“You have tingling and burning sensation in your feet and legs and then I have it in my hands and it’s just very painful.” 

Something had to change for the 62-year-old Union, Missouri, woman, 

“I didn’t want to get addicted to the pain pills, so I looked for a different alternative,” Lang said. 

Her internet search led her to Dr. Ramis Gheith, an interventional pain medicine specialist, located in Chesterfield. 

“Now, we have a solution not only to control that pain without any pain medication at all, (but) also we have evidence that’s been proven and has been evaluated by the FDA that this therapy is better than conventional medical management,” Dr. Gheith said. 

He determined Lang was a good candidate for a revolutionary alternative to conventional therapies, a recent FDA-approved electrical device that is implanted in a patient. It sends mild electrical pulses through catheters put on the spine.

“This therapy then quiets down the nervous system by activating what we call the inhibitory neurons and desensitizes the nervous system and as that happens the pain signals quiet down and the pain goes away,” Dr. Gheith said. 

Lang said she is happier now that she is in less pain.

“My pain is 90 percent gone,” she said. “Physically, I’m able to play with my grandkids. Walk more. Do just about anything.” 

For Dr. Gheith, pain management became personal. His mother was diagnosed with diabetic neuropathy.

“Her pain was so severe she couldn’t put on her shoes, couldn’t put on her socks, could barely walk on the carpet. She had to be on so many medications just to control her pain,” he said. 

Dr. Gheith said many of his patients at the Interventional Pain Institute who have the implant have significantly reduced the need for pain medication.

“As you know, the COVID pandemic has caused a surge in opioid overdoses and this is a tool that we use in our battle against the opioid epidemic,” he said.