Gary was working as a painter in 2005. While lifting two 5-gallon buckets of paint one afternoon, he heard a pop.
An MRI showed two bulging discs and a slipped disc at L2-3, L3-4 and L4-5. Gary’s pain originated in his lower back, radiated to the legs, and caused numbness in his feet. He was unable to work.
Gary's general practitioner referred him to three different back surgeons. All agreed that a fusion might resolve the injury, but none would perform the procedure given that Gary was only 53.
Gary was referred to a pain management specialist who prescribed physical therapy and medication. Unfortunately, physical therapy did not provide relief, and Vicodin® offered only temporary relief. Gary grew concerned that he was becoming addicted to the medication, and the side effects were problematic.
After exhausting other options, Gary's pain physician talked to him about neurostimulation. He recommended a screening test to see if Gary would be a good candidate for the therapy.
During the screening test, two leads were placed in the lumbar area and two more at L10 and L11. When the device was turned on, Gary says he felt pain relief for the first time in 2 years.
Gary had the device surgically placed in January of 2007. He did not experience any surgical complications, such as infection and bleeding, although these complications can occur.
Gary is aware that there are risks associated with device implants including skin erosion, allergic response, loss of pain relief, and chest wall stimulation but he has not experienced any of these effects to date.
Physically and mentally, Gary reports big improvements with neurostimulation. Because his pain is better managed and he doesn't need to take as much pain medication, he has found his thinking to be more clear, he's not as short-tempered with his family, and he can drive again. He's even considering returning to work. Gary compares the stimulation sensation to a massage on his back. He says the device keeps his discomfort level to under a 4 on the pain scale.
For Gary, neurostimulation has been an excellent alternative to back surgery at this point. It's eliminated his fear of drug dependency and the device has greatly restored his quality of life.
Vicodin is a registered trademark of Knoll Pharmaceutical Company Corporation.
This story reflects one person's experience. Not every person will receive the same results. Talk to your doctor about your treatment options.