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Updated 04/13/2012 09:18 AM
Healthy Living: Chronic pain
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Chronic pain patient Sharon Denny had a sledding accident when she was just a teen.
"I had my first back surgery at the age of 30 and still had chronic pain and leg problems throughout my life on," she said.
Sharon's story is common. Even after decades of treatment, occupational therapy, physical therapy, back surgeries and even potent pain killers have provided little relief.
Now, Denny has a spinal cord stimulator implanted in her back.
"Spinal cord stimulation is use of electrical currents, applied to areas around the spinal cord that produce a very pleasant sensation that overlaps or overcomes the painful sensation," Pain Management Specialist Dr. Trip Gordon said.
"I feel like it broke the cycle of pain," Gordon said.
It begins with a seven-day trial. A temporary stimulator is placed in the spinal canal, near the nerves where it interrupts pain signals.
The pain is replaced with a gentle vibration and 80 percent of patients move to the permanent implant. The small battery is placed either in the patient’s lower back, buttocks or upper chest where most patients don't notice it.
Patients have the ability to increase or decrease the amount of stimulation. In fact, there are billions of programs patients can choose from, depending on their level of activity.
And with just a swipe of a magnetic wand over the battery, Sharon is ready to go without her pain pills.
"I am not depressed. I'm not lying on my couch thinking everyone is out there living and I am out there living now," Denny said.