Testimonials: Spine – Spinal Cord Stimulator for Pain Relief

Andrea Luke – Spinal Cord Stimulation for Pain

Photo of Andrea Luke and Dr. SurejaMy name is Andrea Luke.  I am a mother of two and a registered nurse.  I injured my back at the age of 32 when lifting a patient at work.  I spent many years in pain.

My injury resulted in five spine surgeries, many tests and countless procedures.  My last surgery was a four level fusion that stopped any further deterioration, but left me with chronic pain.  I became unable to work as a nurse.  Everyday tasks were difficult and I missed out on many activities with my children.  In addition to nursing, I loved to ski, mountain bike, hike and scuba dive, all of which I could no longer do.  Medications helped my pain but did not take it away completely. Plus, I never felt like myself when taking the meds.

I found Dr. Raj Sureja and he worked with me to combat my chronic pain.  We tried injections and epidurals, but I did not get sufficient relief.  He suggested a spinal cord stimulator and after a while, I finally agreed.  My neurostimulator was a complete success. I now take no medication whatsoever.  I work full-time as a high-risk Labor and Delivery Nurse in Norfolk and I live a full, active and PAIN FREE life.  Neurostimulation was a complete game changer for me.  Thank you, Dr. Sureja!

Andrea Luke

 

Lorraine Saunders – Spinal Cord Stimulator for Pain Management

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I have had chronic back and hip pain since the ‘80s. I have tried everything for relief. I have been to chiropractors and all kinds of doctors. Even 5 back surgeries (with rods, screws and even a spine fusion) didn’t fix me and narcotic pain pills did nothing to relieve my pain. Although my physicians meant well and really tried to help me, it seemed like nothing was working. I hurt all the time.

I was referred to Dr. Raj Sureja by my PCP. After seeing Dr. Sureja a few times, he suggested a Spinal Cord Stimulator be implanted to relieve my pain. I was in no way ready to have another surgery. I asked a physician that I trusted, for his opinion. He told me that wouldn’t recommend the Spinal Cord Stimulator. So decided against having it implanted and continued taking my pain medicine, hoping for relief.

To make matters worse, in 2011, I was driving one day and a drunk driver hit my car head-on. My pain level went from bad to absolutely terrible. My pain just kept getting worse and worse. I was desperate for any pain relief.

I again saw Dr. Sureja and he brought up the Spinal Cord Stimulator. I was very reluctant, but I hurt so bad that I thought it couldn’t make things any worse. Dr. Sureja told me that I could even try the Spinal Cord Stimulator for a week, without having it permanently implanted, so see if it helped me. I tried it and it did help with my pain. I decided to have it permanently implanted in 2013.

All of my pain did not immediately go away. I still took pain medication after getting the SCS and the vibration sometimes bothered me. But, I decided to stick with it. One day, I called the Pharmacy to refill my pain medication. After hanging up the phone and thinking about it, I decided that I was done with the pain medicine. It really made me groggy and sleepy. I felt like I was missing out on the important things in life. So, I called the pharmacy and cancelled my order. I stopped my medication cold turkey and I haven’t taken any since. All I take now is Tylenol.

Thankfully, I was able to talk to the person who adjusts the Spinal Cord Stimulator about the vibration I felt and how it bothered me. He was able to adjust it so that I barely feel the vibration anymore, if at all. I am happy to report that the only time I hurt is when the unit battery is low and needs to be recharged. I just tape the battery charger to my back when I go to sleep and then it is recharged when I wake up. What a relief!

I once said that I just wanted to be able to go to the mall with my grandkids, and walk around without pain. I didn’t want much, just that. I can now do that and much more. I am so grateful to Dr. Sureja for recommending this technology. Life is now great!

Lorraine Saunders

Linda Marks – Spinal Cord Stimulator for Pain Management

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I have had back problems and pain for a long time. Sometimes the pain would be so bad, I could barely walk.  I saw Dr. Jeffrey Carlson at OSC and he diagnosed me with many different spine issues. We tried treating these problems conservatively, but I wasn’t getting better. As a result, I finally had to have three different fusion surgeries, one in my neck and two in my lower back, spaced a few years apart. The surgeries helped keep me going and able to work and Dr. Carlson did a great job.  However, I continued to have pain because surgery couldn’t fix everything that was wrong.  I was also having pain in my knees and all over my body.  Dr. Carlson referred me to Dr. Jenny Andrus who does Pain Management.

 

Dr. Andrus diagnosed me with Fibromyalgia and gave me medication which helped. She gave me an injection for my knee pain. However, I continued to have bad pain in my lower back which again was causing issues for me when I stood at work or tried to walk.  Dr. Andrus never gave up and continued to try different therapies to help me.  Finally, she suggested I try Spinal Cord Stimulation.  I agreed.

 

Dr. Carlson permanently implanted the Spinal Cord Stimulator on April 13th.  It has been amazing how it has really worked for me.  I would say my pain has been reduced by 75-80%.  I can now enjoy going outside again and being with my husband, as well as working without being in agony.  I am truly thankful to both Dr. Carlson and Dr. Andrus for helping me walk again without hurting.

Linda Marks.

William Kranz, Jr. – Spinal Cord Stimulator for Pain

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I was referred to Dr. Sureja for chronic foot pain due to Neuropathy. After finding a combination of non-narcotic pain medicines, I began to get relief in my feet.

I have always had back pain. After several epidural injections, Dr. Sureja referred me to Dr. McFarland to discuss the possibility of receiving a Spinal Stimulator implant. At that time, I was unable to stand up straight. I went with the implant and knew as soon the temporary implant procedure was done that the permanent implant would be successful.

That was several years ago and the stimulator has changed my life. The follow up care with Boston Scientific is awesome. You call and within a day they can adjust the settings. Thanks to Dr. Sureja and Dr. McFarland, I now have a better quality of life and can enjoy retirement.

Gene Mason – Spinal Cord Stimulator for Pain Relief

My name is Gene Mason and I am 89 years old. I had three back surgeries 50 years ago and have been plagued with back problems ever since.

Two years ago, back pains had reached the point where I felt the need for some sort of corrective action. I had about a year of epidurals and physical exercises. They were effective at first, but only for a short period of time. The neurosurgeon in Williamsburg referred me to the University of Virginia for treatment. The surgeon there told me that, though I needed surgery, my age made the risks too high to perform. I was referred to a pain clinic in Charlottesville and after 6 months of treatment, I was still taking 2 tablets of oxycodone daily, when the doctor told me that he had done all he could for me and suggested that I look into treatment by Spinal Cord Stimulation. He said that a one week trial period would be required to determine if I would be a good candidate for permanent Stimulator implantation. I was told by the doctor who does trials here in Williamsburg, that he had reviewed my MRIs and had determined that I would not be a candidate for final surgery.

My family doctor knew of the work done by Dr. Raj Sureja of the Orthopaedic and Spine Center and referred me to his office. What a blessing! Dr. Sureja ordered new MRIs and determined that I could be a candidate for final surgery and proceeded to perform the trial period surgery. After one week, the results indicated that I would benefit from permanent implant of the Stimulator. Final Spinal Cord Stimulator surgery was performed by Dr. Sureja’s associate, Dr. Mark McFarland. That was 5 months ago. I wish I could say that I no longer have any pain whatsoever, however, I have some good days and some bad days, but the best thing is that I seldom take any medication for the pain I experience. I have read that a 50% reduction in pain is considered successful treatment. By that standard, my surgery has been very successful.

Dr. Sureja, his associates and his staff have shown themselves to be a very caring team, whose sole purpose is to make the patient as pain-free as possible. They have all been very professional, yet very friendly in interfacing with me, the patient. The same can be said of the technical representatives of Boston Scientific who do the programming of the Stimulator.

For others, who have been in a situation similar to mine, I heartily recommend consulting with Dr. Sureja and the Orthopaedic and Spine Center.

Ernest E. Mason

David Wooten – Spinal Cord Stimulator for Chronic Pain

I have the highest regards for O.S.C., Dr. Sureja and Dr. McFarland. They have taken extreme care in seeing to my well-being, the latest, the installation of a spinal stimulator, which in the testing stage, was a godsend.

Terry Parrisher – Pain Management

Terry Parrisher had been living with severe back pain for more than 40 years when he first saw Dr. Jenny Andrus at Orthopaedic & Spine Center in the spring of 2011. His problems began in the mid-1970s, when he fell in the line of duty and injured his back. “I was in the Air Force at the time,” Terry remembers. “They x-rayed me and sent me to the Army Regional Hospital in Denver, Colorado.”

Those x-rays revealed more than just his back injury: they showed deterioration in his spinal column, and they led to the first of seven surgeries he underwent in an attempt to eliminate the worsening pain he was experiencing on a daily basis.

“The first operation I had was disc surgery,” Terry says. “But it didn’t get rid of the problem, so the Army doctor gave me medication for the pain.” Terry stayed on the medication until he retired from the Air Force, when he and his family moved to Newport News. By the early 1980s, the pain had become so intense that he again sought surgical help. “I was introduced to a local doctor who performed the same type of surgery on me the Army doctor had done,” he recalls, “but with little or no success.”

Later, in 1987, he visited the Medical College of Virginia for yet another surgery – and another disappointment. “Things just continued to deteriorate,” Terry says, “and by now I’d had a lot of nerve problems from all the surgeries.”

Frustrated, he went the next several years without any surgical intervention, until once again the pain forced him to seek help: this time from a neurosurgeon, who performed three surgeries on his back – three surgeries within a nine-day period. “The first time, the screws he put in were too big,” Terry remembers, “so he had to go in the next morning and take them out and put in smaller ones. Then he found out that he’d covered up a live nerve in my back. Every time I moved, it was exerting pressure on the nerve and it felt like somebody was sticking a knife in my back.” Terry recalls there were two neurosurgeons in the operating room during the third procedure.

Less than a year later, he had tremendous difficulty walking. He could move about – slowly and painfully – using a walker or a cane, but the pain was so great that he spent most of his days lying down to escape it. He was 57 years old.

He decided to try again. “I saw a doctor who showed me what he thought could be the problem, and he inserted rods in my back. It helped some, but I still had an excessive amount of pain. My life was about 50% – I could hardly do anything.” At that point, Terry says, he was determined there would be no more surgeries. He wasn’t going to put himself or his family through that again.

That’s when he heard about Dr. Andrus and the spinal cord stimulator. “I either read about it, or saw her on television talking about it, and I wanted to learn more,” he says. “I got some literature, and my wife and I read all about it. We knew there’d been success with it, but we also knew it wasn’t the kind of surgery I’d had before.” They made an appointment to talk with Dr. Andrus, to find out more about the procedure – and to ask if she might be able to offer him some relief.

Dr. Andrus explained to the Parrishers that the procedure has two-parts. “Initially it’s done as a trial, to give patients a chance to try it and see if they like it,” she says. “We first put a small lead into the epidural space – it’s essentially an electrical lead, which we can then stimulate to send electrical pulses to the spinal cord. We replace the pain signal with something more pleasant.” Think pacemaker, only to regulate pain, and directed to the spinal cord rather than the heart.

“Once we’ve completed the trial, and we know that the device really does help their pain – and just as importantly, that they feel they can do more – we can arrange to put it in permanently,” Dr. Andrus notes. “Terry’s case was a bit complicated, as he had spinal stenosis in the area where I typically place the leads.” She explained this to Terry, who says, “Dr. Andrus told me she’d leave it in one week, to see if it helped.”

It didn’t take the full week for Terry to know. “I had success right away,” he says. “It was instantaneous.”

A short time later, in May of 2011, Dr. McFarland performed the second part of the procedure: inserting a bigger lead, sewing it down, and putting in the battery. The result? “Out of the 100% pain that I had, I have about 10% now,” Terry says, and adds, “But you have to understand: when you live with 100% pain for 40 years, and then all of a sudden you have 10% pain, that’s like having no pain at all.” The 10% he manages easily with one pill a day – that and his little remote control, a device that turns the system on and off, and allows him to adjust the stimulation within parameters set by Dr. Andrus. Terry Parrisher calls it a miracle.

That’s not the end of Terry’s story, however, and not the reason he’s so quick to sing Dr. Andrus’ praises. “My family and I were so excited after they put in the stimulator in May, it was a real rich time,” he recalls, “But at the end of last summer, I was diagnosed with cancer in my jaw, and I had to undergo surgery to replace the bottom part of my mouth.” He faces more surgery, but first has to spend time in a hyperbaric chamber – every day – to prepare his body for the next procedure. He says, quite simply, “I could not have made it through the cancer treatments if I had to contend with the kind of pain I’d been suffering for so many years. I just couldn’t. I’d never have made it without Dr. Andrus.”