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Lifting The Shadow of Pain Part 1

December 4th, 2008 (07:34 pm)

From the desk of thematrix777:

This is a 2 part post. I am going to be bring you a series of options for pain relief. They are used for RSD, (Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy)
but they can be useful for many types of injury.

I chose this first because at my last doctors appointment, he wanted me to have this. I started investigating the Spinal Cord Stimulator (SCS) and I'll share with you part of what I found. They have approached the subject with me before and I rejected it. Why?

  1. In my case, I'm risking a lot. RSD can be spread faster when you have surgery. Mine spreads fast enough on its own. I don't need a motivator for it.
  2. Surgery is what gave me RSD to begin with. I'm a little gun shy.
  3. The people that I  spoke with it's about 50/50. The biggest complaint was about battery packs and battery life. Most were help, some more than others.
That's about all I can think of at the moment.

So read the article, research for yourself and then everyone has to make their own decision. It's up to you!
*************************************************************
By Wayne J. Guglielmo
NJ Mo
yne J. Guglielmo
NJ Monthly

Doctors today have more ways to offer relief than ever before. So why are so many people in New Jersey and beyond still suffering?
 
Weshon Hornsby has returned to his first love-painting. His pictures-lively, colorful, at times oddly whimsical-include portraits of people and animals, still lifes, landscapes, and cityscapes. In Heat Stroke, which depicts a cartoon-like city skyline, the high-rise buildings themselves are wilting under a midday summer sun.

It was not too long ago that Hornsby, a native of Neptune who was raised in Asbury Park, thought he would never be able to paint again. In 2000, while operating a machine that digs trenches for laying electric cables, he herniated a disc in his lower back. His pain after the accident was intense. "Except for doing my physical therapy, I was pretty much bedridden for sixteen to eighteen hours a day," he says.

Hornsby, 37, underwent two unsuccessful back surgeries that probably exacerbated his underlying nerve damage. In 2003, he visited pain-management specialist Scott E. Metzger, who had recently opened a practice in Shrewsbury. Metzger placed Hornsby on a combination of medicines, including a narcotic, an anti-inflammatory, and Methadone, a synthetic opioid. Following a disappointing six-month evaluation, Metzger altered the mix of medicines. The revised treatment relieved some of Horns-by's back pain but did little to alleviate the pain that was radiating down his legs, causing them to shake.

At this point, Metzger referred Hornsby to his new practice partner, Peter S. Staats, an internationally known pain expert and founder of the division of pain medicine at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. (Staats, like Metzger, is among New Jersey Monthly's top doctors.) After tweaking Hornsby's medication regime yet again, Staats decided his patient might be a good candidate for spinal cord stimulation, a procedure requiring simple surgery that uses an electrical current to treat chronic pain.

A trial run in which a stimulator was inserted through the skin produced positive results. Immediately, Hornsby experienced a roughly 80 percent reduction in his pain, both in the lower back and down his legs, which no longer shook uncontrollably. Prior to the trial, he was not able to sit upright in a chair for more than a half hour before his pain grew so intense he was forced to lie down. After Staats's initial procedure, Hornsby says he could "sit up for three to four hours straight and work on my art." Encouraged beyond his expectation, Staats performed a second procedure to implant the stimulator more permanently.

"Before the treatment, Weshon would come into the office with a grimace on his face," Staats says. "Afterward, you could see his face open up. He was just like a different guy once the shadow of pain was lifted."

Weshon Hornsby's story has a happy ending, one that has altered not only his life, but the lives of his wife and two daughters. Yet despite success stories like his, chronic pain still affects millions of Americans.   

Studies indicate that one in four U.S. adults have endured a day-long bout of pain in the past month or so.

An alarming one in ten pain sufferers-three out of five in the 65-and-older age group-report their pain has lasted a year or more, according to a study released in 2006 by the National Center for Health Statistics. By this measure, more than 800,000 New Jersey residents may be suffering from chronic pain.

Among neurological ailments, headaches at all severity levels are the most common, followed by lower back pain. Not surprisingly, the incidence of severe joint pain increases with age, with women in the government survey reporting such pain more often than men. Other conditions causing pain include arthritis, cancer, diabetic neuropathy, fibromyalgia, spinal cord injuries, and failed back surgery, like Hornsby's.

A big reason pain lingers is that people delay getting help. In a 2004 survey conducted on behalf of the American Chronic Pain Association, nearly half of the people interviewed said they had waited more than a month before talking with a doctor; 30 percent of these said they had waited more than three months. Most people sought help only after their pain had become significantly more severe.

But even proactive pain sufferers sometimes have problems. "People don't always know where to turn," says Will Rowe, CEO of the American Pain Foundation, which advocates on behalf of patients. Pain medicine itself is still a relatively new field. And even some primary care physicians have a limited understanding of the issues and referral sources.

But the situation is improving, thanks in part to greater public awareness of pain generally and to better training of nonspecialists. Still, says Rowe, more needs to be done to educate pain sufferers about where to turn and what treatment options are available to them.

If you are among the thousands of New Jersey residents living with chronic pain, now may be a good time to take action!

PS. This article is from New Jersey, but the same can be applied to just about any state. The American Pain Foundation is a nationwide organization that serves everyone. Please use their services if you need them.