When All Other Treatments Fail, How APC Found A Solution for Severe Chronic Pain- Check Out Stormey’s Story
By Austin Horrocks, D.O. and contributions from Stormey Perritt
Stormey had a hip replacement with a new ball and socket joint. Unfortunately, there was a complication and the bone cement came out of the confined hip area to the surrounding muscles and nerves. In her case, it was quite severe. The cement had been rubbing against nearby nerves, causing friction, significant pain, and nerve damage in the local area and in the lower spine.
She said she was experiencing a significantly reduced quality of life due to the pain and could not live or complete daily tasks without thinking about the pain. She initially came to APC to ask about receiving a pain pump, or an implant that delivers small levels of pain medication directly through to the spinal fluid. Since she was already prescribed strong medications and her pain did not change as a result, we didn’t think it was a good idea to start this treatment.
We wanted to come up with a treatment that could really support her quality of life since she came to APC as a rather last resort. She had tried several different treatment options for her pain that were unsuccessful; the bone cement along with her opioid treatment had really affected her overall wellbeing.
Stormey had been dealing with pain from her mid back down her body for over ten years. Her quality of life and her mental and emotional wellbeing had really taken a toll due to the pain. She used to be a nurse and was quite mobile due to her role, and she had to leave her passion behind. She also could no longer do the things that she enjoyed such as wear makeup, brush her hair, or have a meaningful conversation with her spouse because the pain would bombard her every thought.
When she was originally referred to APC by her pain doctor, he suggested that she ask about a pain pump. She was receiving back and hip injections every three months, as well as, radiofrequency ablation every six to nine months. She was already taking strong medications two times a week and it was not providing much relief. When she saw Dr. Horrocks, he suggested a pain stimulator, a device that makes electrical contact with the nerve ends of the spinal cord. It would not necessarily take away the cement that had strayed outside the hip area, but it could possibly decrease her pain.
Initially, she was skeptical of the treatment because she was afraid of a potential infection that could formulate, since there was significant bone cement in the area already. But after a detailed explanation from Dr. Horrocks of the treatment and possible side effects, resolving some of her worries, she began to trust him.
She started with a seven day trial period with the simulator and found it worked well, so she decided to continue with the treatment. In almost ten years, she said she felt almost pain free and that the experience she had was life changing. She still had her limitations with mobility, and she admits she needs to sit down and use assistance devices to get around; but she says she has found her joy again.
She admits that before the stimulator, she felt that she did not have a reason to live. She couldn’t hear the birds, and didn’t have much mental clarity because she was overwhelmed by the pain.
Now, she feels like she can continue to live her life, “do good” and bring goodness into the world. She also says that she has weaned herself off of strong pain killers; and she now only takes either Tylenol or Ibuprofen when she needs it. She says that her mental and soul limitations are no longer. She is very happy with her new treatment and the work she did with Dr. Horrocks.
She says that at APC, she felt listened to. She felt that they really took a vested interest in finding a solution that worked for the long term, instead of just simply putting a bandaid over a gash wound.
The Benefits of Choosing APC
Working with Stormey was great because she is a wonderful person and patient who really trusted us to find her the best solution for her pain.
We prioritize listening to our patients when they are sharing their goals, instead of diminishing their pain, or finding quick fixes. We want to make sure that the quality of life that they wish to experience, is the one that our pain treatments can match. One of her goals was to ween off of prescribed pain medication and after the stimulator was implanted, we gave her suggestions on how she could accomplish this goal. She was able to do it only six weeks after the stimulator was implanted.
When it comes to chronic pain, we see how hard it is on our patients to deal with it on such a regular basis. We want to make our patients feel valued and ensure that we take their pain seriously.
We spend quite a bit of time considering what our patients’ goals are and what type of pain they may be experiencing so we can offer them a solution that doesn’t just work in the short term, but can continue to support them long after they visit us.