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Main Line (Austin Area)
Woman tying her shoes.

Lawanda Finally Found Relief with a Spinal Cord Stimulator

28 years ago, Lawanda fell down a flight of stairs.

And while doctors handed her some medication and a boot and said it wasn’t broken, every four to five months, she’d feel pain in the same area.

Finally, she went to the doctor again when it seemed to last longer than it normally did. She got a screen in her ankle, because her foot has started turning inward, and eventually got surgery of two rods put in her foot.

Since her injury, Lawanda’s husband had a spinal cord stimulator put in that yielded tremendous well for his back, leg, and knee pain. But she’d never considered any outside options, particularly because her doctors didn’t… until about three years ago.

Her foot pain had gone significantly downhill. Eventually, she got surgery on it, but still, it didn’t feel fully healed. As she was walking across the APC parking lot one day, Dr. Malone happened to be walking towards her. “You’re in a lot of pain, aren’t you?” He said.

“Yes,” replied Lawanda. “But I’m used to it. They said it’s not going to get better than this.”

Dr. Malone insisted that she came in to see what they could do.

The Journey to Advanced Pain Care

When other doctors told her that the pain would always be there, Advanced Pain Care had a different approach. “I went to Advanced Pain Care, and they educated me on it,” she describes.

After a few visits with careful explanation and a meeting with her patient ambassador, and her APC navigator, Lawanda decided to do a trial for the spinal cord stimulator, not knowing how it would help but being open to the idea and trusting in her care.

Advanced Pain Care is a multidisciplinary pain clinic, meaning they have multiple specialties under one roof. Unlike a traditional pain clinic with a single department, APC’s cross-functional practices can easily communicate with each other, so you’re not hopping from doctor to doctor to get the answer you need. That means orthopedics, pain, rheumatology, neurology, pharmacy, and now physical therapy, all under one roof, so you’re an athlete in need of ongoing physical therapy support, or have been suffering from chronic pain for years, APC’s multidisciplinary offices are there to offer you to easiest way to get pain relief.

Transferring information and other doctors to assist is as easy as a simple call upstairs, downstairs, or across the hall. If you’re near our Austin branch, then you’ll experience the multidisciplinary approach to the fullest.

Related: Patient Spotlight: a Multidisciplinary Pain Management Patient Experience at APC

The Spinal Cord Stimulator Trial & Surgery: The Path to Treat Chronic Pain

The Trial

The great thing about a spinal cord stimulator is being able to give it a trial run before getting the surgery. Many patients have very positive experiences with the trial, so much so that they can’t wait to get the surgery to get it fully put in!

The trial– which is a very minimal outpatient procedure– includes your doctor putting two small leads in your back, and then taping the box outside your body. A navigator will then provide you with a remote to turn the stimulator on, and then help you move around with it in your back. Even after the surgery, you’ll be able to control the stimulations or even turn the machine off if you want.

During Lawanda’s trial, her navigator asked her how she felt, helped her get out of her chair, and before she knew it, for the first time in years, she started walking, not limping.

“I limped into the clinic, but I walked out of the clinic without my pain, and I did not want to give it back!”

Immediately, she knew that she wanted to make the appointment to make the surgery happen. Throughout the trial, she didn’t take medicine at all, wanting to see how much the stimulator would work without it.

“I didn’t need [the medicine],” Lawanda says. “I was dancing, I was jumping around behind my grandkids, playing around outside, walking, doing all kinds of stuff. I just couldn’t get enough. I know they said I needed to take it easy, but I wanted to make sure that it was going to work! I didn’t ever want to give it back.”

The Surgery

Even before the trial was over, Lawanda knew that she wanted to schedule the surgery as soon as possible. Her pain care team took out the trial and set up an appointment for permanent surgery.

For Lawanda, her timeline happened to be right during 2020, when the entire world shut down. But as soon as things were operating and the surgery was able to get rescheduled, she was in the surgery room, and got the stimulator put in on April 11th, the day before her birthday!

If you’re wondering what exactly a spinal cord stimulator is, then here’s a little overview:

A spinal cord stimulator is a device that’s surgically implanted near the abdomen area, sending low-level electrical currents to the brain to help circumvent nerve pain being sent to the brain.

While other stimulators can sometimes cause uncomfortable, prickly feelings, but the spinal cord stimulator is a much more comfortable feeling.

Related: Spinal Cord Stimulator: What You Need to Know

Life After Surgery

Aside from two routine adjustments, Lawanda hasn’t been back to Advanced Pain Care since! She has total control over the intensity of it but rarely feels like she has to adjust it or turn it off.

“It’s constantly on, but I don’t feel anything. I might feel a twinge every now and again when it rains or snows, but it’s nothing like it use to be, none of that nerve pain anymore.”

Lawanda works for the state on communicable diseases and is often working in other people’s homes. “I’m out in the field a lot, so it’s important that I’m not hurting all day. Now, I don’t have to stop, or have people ask me if I need a break.”

Many patients like Lawanda who struggle with chronic pain have spent years of their lives in pain, often being told that their constant discomfort is incurable. But at APC, the pain stops here. We love serving our Texas patients and are always here to help you bring hope to your journey to pain relief.

Explore our locations today!