Anterior Cutaneous Nerve Entrapment Syndrome: How Dr. Tollestrup helped Sara-Maria Get Her Life Back


Sara-Maria was a young woman in her thirties confined to bed because of debilitating abdominal pain.

As a professor, she knew how to research online and sought help. After seeing 32 doctors and enduring unnecessary, ineffective surgeries and procedures, she had given up hope.

Then she found Dr. Tim Tollestrup and immediately relaxed.

As a pain-focused Peripheral Nerve Surgeon, Dr. Tollestrup understood, diagnosed and most importantly eliminated her pain with surgery.



Hello. My name is Sara-Maria and I am a patient of Dr. Tollestrup. Like many of Dr. Tollestrup’s patients I had a really long and torturous route to see him. I developed lower right abdominal pain. I was calling it pelvic pain that was idiopathic seemed to apparently emerge from nowhere. I saw a number of doctors five years ago, gynecologists. I went to pelvic floor physical therapy, uro gynecologist, had a number of tests done, and I had kind of given up getting treatment because I was so discouraged.

About a year ago I was fed up with how it interfered with my exercising. I used to do long distance running. With my relationships, it just really alienated me from my body, so I tried to get treatment again. That treatment actually ended up impacting the pain that I had and turning it from pain that was bothersome to pain that was debilitating. I spent 10 months in total, almost completely stuck in bed. I could go to the mailbox and back with a cane, but that was about it. Really just a devastating feeling. It was chronic, it was intense. And I wasn’t being heard from doctors.

During that 10 month period, I had four surgeries, saw 32 different doctors ranging from gynecologists to hip doctors, to GI doctors, to hernia specialists. I was paying thousand dollars fees to random doctors that I had found on the internet to just talk about my case with them because I wasn’t getting anywhere. I had eight inconclusive diagnostic nerve blocks, and I was really at my wits end, you know?

Some doctors believed me, but they didn’t really have anything that they could do. Some doctors insisted there was nothing in that location that could be causing me pain. It was insinuated that I was hysterical or even lying. I don’t get healing from this, I’m going to jump off of a cliff or I’m going to ask to have my entire leg or abdomen amputated because I was basically nonfunctional. I was on medical leave. I couldn’t teach or do academic research. I’m a professor and I’m really driven. Those things are a big part of what I do. And so I just felt like I’d lost myself.

I’d read good things about Dr. Tollestrup, once I actually got to see him, I almost immediately relaxed. He knew more about pelvic nerves than me, which was the first time at that point that I had met a doctor in that position. He was able to tell based on the location of my pain, the fact that I could kind of push on it and almost modulate the pain and that a TENS unit sometimes seemed like it scrambled the pain enough to provide relief that I had interior cutaneous nerve entrapment syndrome. That at least was his diagnosis at the time, which turned out to be correct.

He could tell what I had almost immediately. I felt so relieved that I just let go at that point. I trusted him to be my doctor, which is what I had been doing previous to this injury, believing that doctors would actually listen and make a good faith attempt. But I had kind of given up that hope because I’d been so disappointed.

This is your original dot where you always put your finger and that’s the dot where it was a little bit lower. You can see that this nerve is going right, basically it’s right underneath where the dot was. Your pain was about right here based on your skin marking. And here’s one of these little nerves I was talking and it’s just stuck right into the right into that transition where the fascia of the muscle, different muscle bellies, are coming together and then diverging to form the rectus sheath.

So I think this is the source of the pain. You can see as I pull on one vessel and then the other, how that nerve is passing underneath that tight fascia. So that’s the fascia right between the internal bleak and the rectus sheath. Then there’s another nerve actually right very close to it, right above. And I’ve already kind of release that from that same little compression point right here.

So both these nerves are going to go and we’ll take a look a little bit down further and see if there’s another nerve real close. And if there is, we’ll take it out as well.

It was within two or three days that I was able to start walking. It was within a week that I could go for longer walks with my friends. The big thing that wanted to do was to take my dogs on walks, go hiking and exploring, use my body, which I was able to do within two or three weeks. Now I’m back to running. I’m still not up to five to 10 miles, but I can do two miles, and it’s just my stamina that is the issue now. Not my body giving up on me.

Yeah. I’m really appreciative. I had doctors tell me that as a 35 year old, I basically just have to give up my jobs, give up my drive, and be completely consigned to the bed for the rest of my life without any explanation. I knew I had to find a doctor like Dr. Tollestrup. He believes that he could heal most of the patients or at least a majority of the patients who are wasting away in these pain management specialists without an answer. And I just wish that there were more doctors who were trained in the specialty, nationally and internationally, who take, who take the nerve seriously. Those are the source of the pains.

I’m extremely grateful to Dr. Tollestrup. And I have my life back. I’m back to researching, writing academic articles, hopefully back to teaching soon. And yeah, I wish there were more doctors willing to listen, to put in the work.


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