Thousands of Central Texans suffer from acute chronic back and leg pain. It is 24-7, terribly debilitating and often there are not very good solutions. Last May the FDA approved a new tool that is showing remarkable results. It is a high frequency stimulation implant in your back, a simple procedure that is providing instant relief.
Dawn Pace lived with it for years, “The pain was unbearable, it was difficult to walk, doing everyday things. Driving was excruciating, pain up my legs, sleeping was something I didn’t do very much of.” Dawn, a mother of two and software consultant, couldn’t get out of bed, into a car and daily work was a struggle. Life was insufferable. She had disc surgery 14 years ago but her back continued to deteriorate. Her surgeon recommended Texas Pain Associates, the first clinic in the greater Austin area to use the new Nevro stimulation implant.
Dawn recalls, “Physical therapy didn’t work, pain medication didn’t work, I was feeling finally like I’m done. What can we do I asked, I don’t another back surgery, what can we do to alleviate this pain? Dr. Le said we’ve got this awesome device by Nevro, we can implant it in your back and see how that works the pain for you, and I said let’s do it.”
Medications have side effects and can lead to dependency, full out surgery has recovery time and the potential of complications. Earlier generation stimulations were low frequency and often caused unpleasant sensations. The new device is easily implanted and works at a very high frequency. Dr. Paul Le at Austin Pain Associates explains, “It’s stimulation of a nerve that is imperceptible to the patient, but in doing so it reduces pain transmission along the spinal cord to the brain, so essentially the patient will feel less pain without any sensation.”
The outpatient procedure took a little over an hour. The stimulator will run continuously but Dawn will never notice. Asked how quickly she felt relief, she smiles, “I no longer use a cane, I went home without a cane, like immediately.” Life is a joy again for Dawn, she’s back at exercise, plays with her son, is a dynamo at work. Her friends and family are amazed at her improvement, so is she, “The relief was instant for me, phenomenal. I was very excited.”
Dr. Le says the stimulation has been substantially effective in nine out of ten patients and is covered by major health insurers and Medicare. It is also being tested to see if it provides relief from some cancer pain but it is too early to tell. If you’re suffering chronic pain lasting six months or more, it’s suggested you talk to your primary care doctor about a possible referral to a pain specialist and explore all your options.