Princeton Institute for Wellness

Home Patient Case Studies Steve Gaissert

Mercerville, NJ

Age: 54


Medical Condition:

Chronic peripheral neuropathy primarily in the arms and hands, due to anterior horn cell damage, caused by a spinal syrinx as the result of Chiari Malformation (a congenital condition where parts of the brain protrude through the opening in the base of the skull into the spinal column).



Central spinal cord syndrome, a pattern of reduced sensation and weakness in the arms — produces chronic pain in the digits and hands, and impaired muscle coordination and strength in shoulders and arms. Occasional additional acute symptoms in other areas of the upper torso occur at times, as a result of this central nervous system condition.


Steve’s Story:

Steve’s primary care physician, Dr. Mark Weinstein of Lawrenceville, recommended NJ pain specialist physiatrist Perry Herman, MD to help treat the neuropathic pain which is a direct result of the anterior horn cell damage, a result of syringomyelia, which was caused Chiari Malformation.


“My medical condition is rare and multi-symptomatic,” Steve explains, “It’s a serious condition that affects my daily life — and without a sound approach to pain management, it could be debilitating.” Steve was familiar with the physiatry specialization, and he valued the manner in which this medical practice employs “a holistic approach to the diagnosis and devising of treatment options”.


Dr. Herman said one of the first things he initiated with Steve was to stabilize his prescription pain medications. The goal was to identify a baseline where he was using as low a dosage as possible but still reaping the pain-lessening benefits of the medication. “This took some time but we eventually achieved a point where it all clicked,” says Dr. Herman.


As a former competitive beach volleyball player, Steve appreciated that Dr. Herman was open to the inclusion of active, patient controlled therapies within his overall treatment protocol. “Most doctors characterized as “pain specialists” won’t consider yoga or other alternative therapies to treat a condition such as mine, but Dr. Herman actually worked with me in developing a customized therapeutic program that incorporates yoga poses and various physical therapy techniques. Thanks to these therapies, I have control over my pain, and can pursue an active life.”


Today, Steve’s condition is stabilized and he no longer needs to see Dr. Herman on a regular basis.


“Perry is one of the few doctors I know who truly collaborates with you,” Steve explains. “He’s a pain management specialist who is actually open to all the holistic treatments out there, including those that don’t involve simply taking prescription drugs. That’s exactly the kind of care I was seeking and I could not be more pleased with where I am today.”


(July 2014)