How Saundra H. Found Pain Relief With The Spinal Stimulator
Every person’s pain is unique, and every person’s success with the spinal stimulator is different.
When chronic pain patients share their stories and journey with spinal stimulation, it often reminds us that others are going through similar experiences. It’s a reminder to connect with those that need support and continue to offer solutions that can give you the pain relief you deserve.
Saundra H. shares her inspiring story about her long struggle with chronic pain, and how the decision to choose spinal cord stimulation with Advanced Pain Care changed her life.
12 Years of Chronic Back Pain With No Relief
Saundra was an active registered nurse, working hard to take care of patients when one day at work, she noticed “a spot about the size of a quarter on my right outer thigh that started to burn. Over time the pain grew into a nagging, itching, deep pain, that I would constantly rub to try to get rid of it,” Saundra remembers.
She added, “I didn’t know what was happening, but I knew it was spreading. The small area grew to the entire outer thigh from my hip down to above my knee. I also noticed that my left side started feeling the same.”
The neuropathy type pain with shooting electrical type impulses was unbearable, “The more I did an activity, the worse the pain was. Any activity just elevated it to the point where my pain levels were a ten, and I couldn’t function. I was stuck in bed.” Saundra explained.
“I was at the peak of my career as a registered nurse when the pain hit me. It robbed me of my career; it devastated my life,” Saundra lamented.
Saundra was diagnosed with Meralgia Paresthetica, a condition characterized by numbness, tingling, or burning pain in the outer thighs due to the compression of the lateral femoral cutaneous nerve by the ligament that connects your thigh to your pelvis.
The condition is relatively common because the nerve is superficial and located right in the crease of your hip and thigh. In other words, the nerve is easily impinged or entrapped, and when it is, there’s a course of treatment such as manual therapy to release the nerve and localized nerve blocks to relieve the pain
However, in Saundra’s Case, “Nothing worked for the pain.”
“I went to neurologists, surgeons, and all types of pain specialists. I took pills on top of different pills and had bad side effects with all of them. I had neurolysis of both legs, and that did nothing. Pain injections were worthless. Nothing worked for my pain.”
Saundra struggled to find a pain management specialist that would listen and work with her to find a personalized plan of care that would give her life back.
Saundra revealed that one of the pain specialists she went to said, “There was absolutely nothing to help me. He pretty much told me to go home and live out my life the best I could. That there was no therapy out there for me.”
Another pain management specialist, she adds, “refused to treat me or refill my pain pills. He sent me home with a prescription that would alleviate opioid withdrawals.”
“He didn’t believe me. He thought I was a drug seeker, and I’m not. I’ve never been a drug seeker. I never wanted to increase my pain medication; I always tried to keep it a bare minimum because the side effects were awful,” she said confidently.
For years Saundra managed her pain with high dose opiate medications of fentanyl and hydrocodone. Saundra and many patients feel trapped with these medications. Saundra felt as if she was a slave to her prescription, and though she didn’t want to be on her medication, she felt as if she had no hope without them.
These drugs cause increased stress levels, change behavior such as increased levels of irritability and anger, stunt your immune system, and throw important sex hormones like testosterone and estrogen off-balance. Put simply, the side effects of chronic opioid use have a substantial negative mental, emotional, and physical impact for patients who feel like there is no hope beyond being on high doses of painkillers.
We’ve seen the pitfalls of utilizing high dose opiates with patients. There are different approaches you can take for pain, and some doctors feel like it’s wrong to prescribe these medications and therefore discontinue prescriptions, as in Saundra’s case. Taking medication away is aggressive to the other extreme, and quitting these drugs cold turkey after chronic use puts the patient at risk of destabilization.
In Saundra’s words, she was “sent down spiraling.”
But in relief, she added, “if I hadn’t received Dr. Dennis’s number, I don’t know where I would have been.”
“Dr. Dennis, Advanced Pain Care, and the Spinal Stimulator Saved Me”
Saundra attempted almost everything to treat the pain at the inguinal crease. She was at the point where there was nothing more to do to that area since it was surgically removed from the waistline down even though she was still having pain in that area.
Her brain processes pain in an area where the nerve no longer existed signaled that the source of her chronic pain lay in the ganglion or the processing center of the nerve. Similar to what we see in patients with phantom limb pain sensations.
I knew we had to block those pain signals reaching the brain, and thus that she would be a good candidate for a spinal cord stimulator.
Saundra clarified, “In the first ten minutes of my appointment Dr. Dennis knew exactly what I was going through. He believed me when I said I was struggling with life-debilitating chronic pain for more than ten years, and refilled my prescription for me. But I mentioned that I didn’t want to be on drugs anymore, so when he mentioned the spinal cord stimulator trial, I jumped on it.”
At Saundra’s initial evaluation, we estimated at least a 60% to 70% relief with spinal cord stimulation so she could get considerably weaned down on the opiates that she didn’t want to be a slave to anymore.
“After the Spinal Stimulator Implant, I Immediately Had No Pain”
The trial was a huge success, and immediately Saundra experienced, “no pain.”
“It was gone, and it made me think why did I waste 12 years of my life searching for treatment. Though I’m still recuperating from the procedure, I can pretty much do whatever I want,” she added.
In the first few moments where we turned on the implant in the trial, Saundra was honestly surprised and, in some ways, in disbelief since she went through so much. Thus, when she turned on the system, and it gave her over 95% pain relief she almost couldn’t believe it. She was more than elated, not feeling pain in her thighs for the first time in 12 years.
The nature of her pathology, and her sheer motivation and desire to be better are ultimately what made her spinal cord stimulator successful.
Currently, it’s been about three months since she had the original spinal cord stimulator implanted. She continued on her medications immediately after the procedure, but within a month we were able to start a reduction in her opiates. The strategy is to go slow, but she’s had about a 60% reduction so far, and to continue reducing the amount of fentanyl she uses by a quarter every month, I follow up with her.
“Don’t Give Up! Keep Searching!”
“I am so grateful that I was finally put on a path to meet Dr. Dennis and have the implant. I struggled for over ten years with my pain, so don’t question your journey. Just keep looking and don’t give up,” she said with inspiration.
She quickly emphasized for those out there who felt stuck as she did, “Find out if you’re a good candidate for different treatments and be proactive in your life. Don’t sit back on your haunches and think that doctors are going to give you the best options in the first round because they don’t. You have asked and searched.”
“You have to be your own advocate,” she said powerfully.
However, she added, “If you’re looking for a pain management specialist, then take my advice from experience and go to Advanced Pain Care. I feel in love with Dr. Dennis the moment that I met him. His bedside manner is impeccable and he treated me as if I was the only patient he had. The nursing staff was excellent, I’ve never waited long to get my treatment, and they made the debilitating pain in my legs stop.”
With Saundra, her journey with the spinal stimulator is just beginning. We’re optimistic that she can live with minimal to no opiates and let the spinal cord stimulator take care of her pain in a much more meaningful way than the pain medications ever could.
Like Saundra and many other patients (including our founder Dr. Malone), a spinal cord stimulator could be the treatment that frees you from being trapped by debilitating chronic pain and opiates.
Book an appointment with one of our pain management specialists to see if you’re a good candidate for a spinal cord stimulator, or reach out to us with on our 24/7 live chat so we can answer any questions or alleviate any concerns.
For another compelling story, read how our founder, Dr. Malone, found relief from chronic back pain with a spinal stimulator.