Spine Stimulator Erases Pain

For two years, every move made Lori Guffey hurt.

"Lots of pain down my legs, my back. I just hurt everywhere," she says. "I couldn't walk. I couldn't sit.

Taking pain medicine six times a day didn't help, which made her job as a respiratory therapist difficult. Lori says she had already contacted disability to see if she'd qualify when the Stormont-Vail Pain Clinic told her about the spinal cord stimulator.

Pain Clinic medical director Dr. Ian Kucera says the stimulator works on the nerves in much the same way it works when you bump your knee and rub it to make it feel better. Instead of physically rubbing your knee, you directly stimulate the nerves in the spinal cord.

Dr. Kucera says the device relieves pain that's associated with the nerve in the spine, like leg pain and arm pain. It's done by delivering tiny electrical impulses thru a device similar to a pacemaker. Dr. Kucera says doctors will implant a battery in the back or abdomen through two small incisions, then tunnel wires under the skin to the spine cord. Patients use an exernal device to turn the stimulator on and off.

Before the permanent implant, a trial device is used for several days, to be sure the patient will respond. Lori says the effect on her was immediate.

"I got up and started walking - I couldn't quit walking. I forgot what it was like to walk," she said. "It was awesome."

Lori had a stimulator permanently implanted in August. She says it's changed her life - she's even off all the pain medication.

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