December 09, 2020
According to a new survey from Boston Scientific of people with chronic pain, nearly 60 percent of Pennsylvania respondents aren’t satisfied with their current treatment or therapies. Philadelphia area resident and psychologist Leslie Nyiri can relate.
His pain developed approximately eight years ago. After learning he had degenerative disc disease in his back, Nyiri tried multiple procedures and treatments, some of which provided short-term relief, but they became less effective as his disease progressed.
At one point after a shift in his spine, the pain was so debilitating he became largely housebound and relied on a cane and walker to venture outside of his home. He described his mind as fatigued from the pain. “Pain is debilitating not just physically, but mentally and emotionally because there’s no escaping it.”
According to the CDC, more than 50 million chronic pain sufferers nationwide are struggling with pain that lasts for six months or longer without finding relief. One of the most common reasons that adults seek medical care, chronic pain has been linked to restrictions in mobility and daily activities, dependence on opioids, anxiety and depression, and reduced quality of life. Unfortunately, less than half of those surveyed in Pennsylvania are aware of drug-free, minimally-invasive, interventional therapies helping patients such as Nyiri manage their pain and regain hope for their future.
Nyiri sought help from a pain management specialist – a doctor specially trained to address acute and chronic pain. That’s when he learned about spinal cord stimulation (SCS).
SCS is an FDA-approved implanted medical device that interrupts pain signals from reaching the brain. Unlike some surgical procedures, it can be personalized to an individual’s needs and is reversible.
Patients undergo a trial period, allowing them to evaluate and adjust the pain relief delivered before deciding to receive a permanent implant. Initially, Nyiri didn’t know much about this treatment, but after completing his trial and full implantation with the Boston Scientific Spectra WaveWriter SCS System, he champions it.
“Before SCS, my pain forced me to give up many activities, like traveling, which was hard,” says Nyiri, who is now enjoying his passions, including photography, neuropsychology and sound healing.
“The experience of chronic pain is complex and unique to every person. But pain management specialists have many tools in our arsenal that can provide adequate, lasting, personalized pain relief,” says Dr. Patrick Fall, a board-certified pain specialist at SEPA Pain Management in Horsham, Pennsylvania.
The new survey found that 95 percent of chronic pain sufferers in Pennsylvania would try an FDA-approved, drug-free alternative to help manage chronic pain, but less than half have ever seen a pain specialist.
Dr. Fall notes that for patients with chronic pain in the lower back, legs and feet, SCS offers a personalized experience that can treat multiple pain areas simultaneously. For those suffering from moderate lumbar spinal stenosis, interspinous spacers may relieve pain and discomfort in the lower back, legs, groin and buttocks. Alternatively, radio frequency ablation delivers a small current to interrupt pain signals at the source.
To find a local pain management specialist and learn more about chronic pain, visit www.pain.com, an educational site from Boston Scientific. You can also take a pain assessment quiz and connect with other patients.
Life with chronic pain can be all-encompassing. However, experts say that non-drug therapies are providing tangible relief to patients. Individual results may vary.