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Spinal Stimulation Patient Story
As a special education teacher, Shona LaSalle knows hopeful determination is a big factor in overcoming obstacles in the classroom. And after living with chronic pain for more than three years, it’s that same determination which led to LaSalle’s discovery of spinal stimulation therapy and eventually the return to her quality of life before the pain.
In 2006 LaSalle, 41, experienced a work-related injury that damaged three vertebrae. She underwent a laminectomy, a surgery to remove the lamina, the back part of the vertebra covering the spinal canal, however the surgery was unsuccessful and resulted in residual pain. The pain was diagnosed as reflex sympathetic dystrophy (RSD), a chronic, painful, and progressive neurological condition that affects the skin, muscles, joints, and bones. In addition to the RSD, she was unable to have bowel movements, which required LaSalle to conduct enemas on herself.
“From being a mom, teacher, sports enthusiast, I’ve always been very active. I tried to maintain that same lifestyle throughout dealing with the RSD, so was determined to find a treatment that worked for me,” said LaSalle.
LaSalle was eventually connected with United Pain Center and Todd Hess, MD, in her pursuit to manage the pain.
Despite the injections, LaSalle still needed to take ibuprofen, more than 40 tablets a day, so Dr. Hess presented Spinal Stimulation Therapy as another treatment possibility.
Spinal Stimulation is an advanced therapy designed to relieve certain types of chronic pain. It is not a cure, however it may reduce pain to a manageable level, allowing for a return to a more functional lifestyle with less need for medication.
For spinal stimulation to manage chronic pain, leads are surgically implanted in the epidural space of the spine and connected to an implanted power source. Spinal Stimulation systems look and work a lot like pacemakers and generate mild electrical pulses that are sent to nerves along the spinal cord. The electrical signals are thought to mask the transmission of pain perception and replace them with a gentle massaging sensation.
At United Hospital, the surgical implant of the Stimulation Therapy System leads is performed by Peter A. Pahapill, MD, PhD, director, Neurorestoration Center, United Hospital.
“Shona has really taken advantage of this wonderful, non-destructive, minimally-invasive, reversible, adjustable and personalized therapy that does not require a general anesthetic or a hospital admission. I have seen so many like Shona throughout the last 20 years that have had their lives restored in this way, “ said Peter A. Pahapill, MD, director, Neurorestoration Center, United Hospital.
LaSalle underwent surgery in January 2010 and has since been able to return to the quality of life she had before the chronic pain. Along with the pain management, the Spinal Stimulation Therapy has allowed Gerber to have natural bowel movements.
“Spinal Stimulation was truly a miracle for me. Not only am I able to enjoy everyday activities more, I am back doing the things I did before like going to the gym. What’s really wonderful is that I can program the system myself and can set varying levels for different times of the day. It has made a world of difference for me and anyone who may be in a similar situation should know about it,” said LaSalle.
Source: Peter A. Pahapill, MD
Reviewed by: Peter A.Pahapill, MD
First Published: 11/23/2010
Last Reviewed: 09/01/2010