Patricia Umphres had been suffering from debilitating nerve damage for over 15 years when she first met with Dr. Andrew Manista at Olympia Orthopaedic Associates. “The unbearable pain in my lower back limited my activity and made me feel old and unhappy,” shares Umphres. Patricia met with Manista to see if she could undergo any type of surgical procedure that would alleviate her unbearable pain. While Manista did not feel that Umphres was a good surgical candidate, he referred her to Douglas Taylor who specializes in pain management at Olympia Orthopaedic Associates.
Umphres was desperate for a solution that would improve her quality of life. Chronic pain, or pain that lasts for greater than 6 months, frequently occurs in the back and legs. Over 100 million Americans suffer from common chronic pain and it is the primary cause of adult disability in the U.S. Like many patients who suffer from chronic pain, Umphres had turned to medication for relief from her own pain for almost three decades. Yet it had not come close to eliminating her suffering.
Taylor was trained as a Fellow in Interventional Pain Management at the McGaw Medical Center of Northwestern University. Taylor, now considered an expert in the area of spinal cord stimulation (SCS), has most recently begun using the very latest technology, Nevro’s HF10.
Traditional spinal cord stimulation (SCS) therapy delivers small electrical pulses at a low frequency. These pulses alter the pain signals traveling to the brain. The goal of this low-level frequency spinal-cord stimulation therapy is to mask chronic pain with sensations commonly perceived as tingling, prickling or vibrating sensations also known as paresthesia.
Nevro’s HF10 therapy, approved by the FDA in 2015, is the only spinal cord stimulation therapy that provides pain relief without parasthesia. The HF10 therapy is superior to others in that it provides greater pain relief and patients are able to driving while undergoing the therapy. “If patients have exhausted non-interventional therapies such as physical therapy, acupuncture and chiropractic care, it is time to look at SCS,” shares Taylor.
The rechargeable device is small and easy to implant and can be tested by the patient. “The first step is a trial process to see how the patient tolerates the device,” explains Taylor. “The device is taped to the back with a catheter placed in the epidural space using two small needles.” The patient is encouraged to participate in their normal activities for a week-long trial period. If the patient experiences pain relief and the trial is a success, then implantation is scheduled.
The implantation is a routine outpatient appointment and takes about an hour and a half. “I walked into the clinic and walked out the door pain-free the very same day,” shares Umphres. “It was truly a miracle and I feel like a new person with a spring in my step.” There is no need for general anesthesia and the patient usually only experiences slight soreness at the incision site. Within a couple of weeks, patients are back to their normal activity and in many cases, like that of Patricia Umphres, they are able to participate in activities they have been excluded from for years.
Taylor is thrilled to be able to provide a better quality of life for his patients. “It is wonderful to be able to share with patients that they can free themselves from the burden of needing narcotics,” he explains. “The staff at OOA is superb and having my office and the surgery center all in the same building makes it so convenient for our patients,” he adds. Seeing patients walk out pain-free is one of our biggest joys.
As Brady Adams of Nevro explains, “The opioid crisis is growing and it so important to be able to treat more patients suffering from low back and leg pain with this non-narcotic and highly effective solution.” Treating chronic pain with non-narcotic solutions is becoming a top priority throughout the medical field.
There is hope that with additional research, spinal cord stimulation devices will be available to treat pain in other body parts as well. If you are suffering from lower back or leg pain that is negatively affecting your life and you have tried traditional interventions, give the experts at Olympia Orthopaedic Associates a call to see if the Nevro HF10 is right for you.
Olympia Orthopaedic Associates
3901 Capital Mall Drive SW, Suite B