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Spinal Cord Stimulation Lessens Symptoms of Pain

What started as a pinched nerve from piggyback rides with his daughter became severe pain with no relief for Jim Kinter, a Pittsburgh native. Back surgery, which commonly would relieve the growing pain in his leg, instead gave him unbearable back pain. For years, this meant sleepless nights, uncomfortable mornings, and a lot of tension within his family.

In December of 2012, after trying everything from nerve blocks to opiates, Kinter decided to try one last option: Spinal Cord Stimulation.

Spinal Cord Stimulation is a reversible implant that provides relief from consistent nerve pain. A pulse generator, manufactured by medical device companies such as Boston Scientific, sends electrical impulses to the brain that mask pain signals. These tiny pulses, or tingles, help manage-and relieve- the burning, stabbing, and throbbing sensations chronic pain patients’ experience. This action helps manage-and relieve- the aching in your body. It typically works for people dealing with chronic pain or severe discomfort in their back and extremities.

At Ohio Valley General Hospital, Pain Treatment Center physician Ankur Gosalia, M.D., believes spinal cord stimulation can help improve your quality of life. “When we treat your (leg) pain, your function tends to get better. You’re able to use your legs more easily.”

He and his partner, David DeChellis, D.O., routinely see patients for whom they recommend and treat with Spinal Cord Stimulation. When a patient is interested in the procedure, he or she consults with the physicians to see if it is right for them. The patient is then given a temporary stimulator—one attached outside of the body. If the trial gives the patient at least a 50% increase in pain relief, they move ahead by scheduling the patient for an outpatient procedure at Ohio Valley General Hospital. The physicians continue to monitor the patient’s stimulator-and their lessened pain- through follow-up appointments.

To control the device once it’s been implanted and in between physician visits, a wireless remote control that looks much like a smart phone allows the wearer to adjust the stimulator settings, which allow the patient to adjust their settings to levels that soothe their pain. The rechargeable battery comes with a 12-year battery life and ensures you never have to turn it off—something Dr. DeChellis calls, “One of the biggest breakthroughs in spinal cord stimulation.” Jim Kinter agreed, “I tried to turn mine off once. I lasted about an hour. I’ll never do it again!”

Kinter is more than happy with the new lease on life Spinal Cord Stimulation has provided him, and his family.

“I feel twenty years younger.”

In fact, Kinter wished he had followed his physician’s advice to try the implant years earlier. According to Dr. Gosalia, Spinal Cord Stimulation used to be an end of the road procedure-after a patient tried everything else. Now, physicians are willing to try it much earlier in the treatment plan.

“Why put a patient through years of misery with opioids when they have a problem that can be treated.”

In comparison to the cost of yearly medications, the procedure is cost-effective. Most insurance companies will cover the cost of the implant.

For more information, and to find out if spinal cord stimulation is right for you, contact the Pain Treatment Center at (412) 777-6400. Get more information about the facility at www.ohiovalleyhospital.org.

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