For three years, Gina Hoffman lived with constant, excruciating facial pain. In her quest to find relief, she visited 18 doctors and took a cocktail of opioids, but nothing dulled the pain.
Her life changed when she met Dr. Gary Heir, who correctly diagnosed Hoffman during her first visit and prescribed treatment that dramatically reduced her levels of pain. “For the first time in a long time, I’m hopeful,’’ said Hoffman, who travels three hours from Connecticut for her appointments at Heir’s Newark office.
A provider with Rutgers Health University Dental Associates, Heir is one of the world’s leading authorities on orofacial pain, an emerging specialty. At Rutgers Health University Dental Associates, world-class faculty from the Rutgers School of Dental Medicine treat patients directly in a private practice setting rather than overseeing student providers. Dentists and specialists incorporate the latest research and treatment technique at state-of-the-art offices in Newark and New Brunswick.
Hoffman’s chronic pain began in 2014, after an injection of anesthesia during a root canal. “I felt like I had a hole in my face,’’ she recounts. The sharp, throbbing pain didn’t go away, despite additional dental procedures, oral surgery, visits to a psychiatrist and the implant of an electronic nerve stimulator.
The pain was so unbearable, she considered ending her life. “I was so miserable, nothing was helping,’’ she says. After one specialist recommended Heir, Hoffman made an appointment. For once, her complaints weren’t dismissed. Unlike other doctors, Heir listened carefully. “He was so compassionate,’’ she says. “The care has been just unbelievable.’’
Heir diagnosed Hoffman with traumatic neuroma and painful post traumatic trigeminal neuropathy. Treatment included injections of a non-opioid analgesic and topical treatments, developed by Heir at RSDM, that managed her pain so she could function again. Although Heir and the staff at Rutgers Health Dental Associates are still working to find a plan that will eradicate her pain entirely, Hoffman is grateful to regain her sense of self. “It’s been wonderful,’’ she says.