For millions of Americans, back pain is a fact of life. "Back pain itself is one of the largest problems we have in the United States," said a pain management physician.
Back pain is also something 70-year-old Marthajean Savage is all too familiar with. "As long as I laid in a recliner, I was fine but the minute I stood up and put pressure, I was in terrible pain," Savage explained.
For years, Savage lived in agony. The pain would start in her leg and radiate up her spine, making even simple things like walking difficult.
Savage tried cortisone shots, medications and other treatments, but they only offered temporary relief. But there is another solution: a spinal cord stimulator to block the pain.
It works almost like a pacemaker for a heart. Pacemakers for hearts can send electrical impulses to the nerve bundles of the heart to allow it to beat and function correctly. A spinal cord stimulator works similarly to that.
In a simple surgical procedure, the spinal cord stimulator is implanted under a patient's skin close to the spine. It works by delivering mild electrical impulses that travel from the device, up through the wires implanted in the spinal cord.
The spinal cord stimulator interrupts the signal track going to the brain and replaces it with a different type of signal. So instead of feeling sharp burning tingling electrical fire, you might feel a massage sensation or a mild tingling sensation that is not painful. Essentially the device outsmarts pain by blocking the pain messages before they can even reach the brain.
For Savage, relief was immediate. "Right away I had no pain whatsoever," Savage recalled. "I got up and walked out of the hospital."
The beautiful part about the device is that the patient has control over it. Using a remote control, patients can make the pulses stronger or weaker, turn the device on or off, and charge it by placing a paddle over the area it's implanted. Spinal cord stimulators can change lives.
With the device, the right candidate can experience a 50 to 75 percent reduction in pain.
But before someone can have a spinal cord stimulator implanted, they must go through a thorough assessment, to see if the device will work for them. For more information contact Franklin Pain and Wellness Center.