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Local Neurosurgeon and Team Help Relieve Years of Pain


After more than 20 years of pain in his arm and neck, James Uelsmann thought he would have to live with the pain for the rest of his life. But thanks to the specialists at Saint Francis Medical Center, the Benton, Mo. resident underwent spinal surgery that helped with his pain and allowed him to spend quality time with his family and friends.

Uelsmann found a solution when Robert E. Gardner, MD, neurologist at Saint Francis Medical Center, referred him to Saint Francis neurosurgeon, Joel West Ray, MD, FACS. Ray spent months investigating Uelsmann’s problem, pouring over his X-rays with multiple specialists, including Carmen N. Keith, MD, pain management
specialist at Saint Francis.

Keith_Carmen_MG_8759“My role is to identify exactly where the pain is coming from,” says Keith. “I inject the patient with nerve root blocks which numb a specific nerve. If the pain lessens when that nerve is blocked, we know we are at the right location.”

Ultimately, Ray determined that the problem was higher in the spine than previously thought. “When I have a complicated case, I need to use a lot of resources to find the solution,” says Ray. “In this case, it took a village to lessen this patient’s pain.”

Uelsmann and his wife Anita are grateful for Ray’s expertise in neurosurgery, the time he took with them and for helping James live a more comfortable life. “We are grateful Ray_Joelfor the entire Saint Francis staff. Dr. Ray was everything Dr. Gardner promised and more. It was comforting to know that Dr. Ray and his team were ready for the challenge and would do anything they could to help my husband,” says Anita. “Dr. Ray served his patient with total accuracy and much compassion.”

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