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Spine Stimulator Relieves LaDana’s Pain

January 10, 2020
DOC guest, LaDana.

LaDana has suffered with chronic pain for 25 years. In 1995, LaDana had her first back fusion surgery of the L5-S1 level, the lowest spinal segment between the L5 vertebra and the sacrum bone of the pelvis. At each spinal level, motion and rotation are controlled by the disks and facet joints between the vertebrae. LaDana was pain-free for one year and then the pain came back with a vengeance.

 

A second surgery fused her spine from L5 to L4, one level above the first fusion. Allographs were used from a donor or cadaver sourced from a bone bank in the spinal fusion surgery as a scaffold for new bone growth. The tissue is rarely rejected, but when LaDana rolled over in bed she heard a crunch. The scaffold did not hold.

 

LaDana could no longer go to work and sit in a chair in an office. For 18 months she worked from home until her employer insisted that she resume working from the office. At 41, she resigned and became dependent on social security and disability. LaDana suffered with multiple chronic pain issues in her neck, shoulder, back, and carpel tunnel syndrome in her hands, resulting in sleep apnea, narcolepsy, and prescription opioids for relief.

 

Then she met Dr. Brannon Frank in 2010. He weaned her off of the narcotics and worked with her to provide pain relief with other intervention techniques. Trigger point and nerve block injections helped LaDana’s neck and shoulder pain, improving sleep. Dr. Frank injected both wrists, which provided almost instantaneous relief. Six months later he repeated the injections and they have lasted more than 18 months.

However, back pain was still debilitating. She could not stand, walk or even sit for short periods of time, which limited her from having a social life, enjoying hobbies or doing housework requiring little physical effort.

 

In 2019, LaDana’s father passed away. Her mother wanted to take LaDana on a 10-day, trip-of -a-lifetime vacation to England and Scotland in September as a healing journey. The DOC team, including Alma, Elizabeth, Darren, and Dr. Frank, always listened with compassion to LaDana’s stories of pain and family tragedy and knew how much she needed to go on this vacation. Dr. Frank proposed a solution, a spinal stimulator.

 

However, spine stimulator therapy is a process and time was limited. Spinal cord stimulation (SCS) therapy blocks pain signals before they reach the brain. Dr. Frank did a trial test run with the device to make sure it would be helpful for LaDana. She felt instant relief. So, the SCS device was surgically implanted via two incisions. Thin wires carry a current from a battery to the nerve fibers of the spinal cord, creating a soothing, tingling sensation in the painful area, which LaDana describes as a “gentle massage.”

 

LaDana only had three weeks of recovery before boarding the plane for a 10-hour flight. She was able to sit for 10 hours on the flight, walk five to six miles a day, carry her luggage, and sit on a bus for hours each day.

 

After three months using her stimulator, LaDana brags about her new active lifestyle: “I was homebound. The spinal stimulator changed my life. I am 95% pain-free. I can carry groceries. I can visit friends and sit on any chair in their homes or go to a restaurant. Now I am going, going, going. The spinal stimulator is versatile. If the pain moves from my lower back to the bottom of my feet, the remote control is programmed so I can adjust it for immediate relief where it hurts. Boston Scientific will continue to reprogram the stimulator if necessary. At DOC, I get treatment when diagnosed instead of making another appointment, which saves me a 2nd co-pay.”

 

LaDana advises her family and neighbors: “If you have pain anywhere on your body, go to Dr. Frank. Try pain management first instead of surgery. I learned the hard way that there are many options for relief. I spent a lot of time and money going to see different types of doctors, getting deep tissue massages, etc. but I should have started with pain management first.”

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