SAN ANTONIO -- Doctors have a new way to help control chronic pain. It doesn’t involve medication.
63-year-old Mike Porter of Blanco suffered for years with low back and leg pain caused by osteoarthritis and scoliosis. Pills weren’t able to overcome the chronic pain which was alternately dull then sharp.
“Jabbing like if you twist or move, something like that,” Porter explained. “Just like somebody took an ice pick and poked it in you. And then at other times it’s just a constant ache.”
In December, Porter had an outpatient procedure at Methodist Stone Oak Hospital to combat his problem.
Doctors implanted a Medtronic neurostimulator. A device is implanted under the skin in the lower back, sending electrical impulses through leads near the spinal cord. That interrupts pain signals from reaching the brain, replacing pain with a vibration sensation.
This new device has a motion sensor, like technology in smartphones and computer gaming systems. It senses when the patient is lying down, sitting up, or standing and adjusts the signal automatically.
“It has the ability to recognize the patient’s position in space, and hence, automatically adjusts the signal intensity for the patient to provide better comfort,” said Dr. Darius Zagunis, a pain management specialist with Advanced Concepts in Pain Care.
For patients like Porter, that means less adjusting and more consistent, convenient pain relief. He said not having to take as much pain medication is liberating.
“It’s been wonderful,” Porter stated. “I’ll be working sometimes and I’ll just be walking around going ‘this is really cool’ because there’s no pain.”
The FDA approved the Medtronic adaptive stimulator with the sensor late last year. It’s a medical device for chronic pain sufferers that’s usually covered by insurance.