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Thread: Could a special remote control beat back pain?

  1. #1
    Senior Member Max's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2001
    Montreal,Province of Quebec, CANADA

    Could a special remote control beat back pain?

    Could a special remote control beat back pain?
    by ROGER DOBSON, Daily Mail - 2nd October 2002

    John Corbett has suffered sharp pains in his back for 16 years. But despite trying every treatment he could find, there was never a cure.

    Now, when the pain returns, he reaches for a handheld remote control, points it at his stomach and presses a button.

    That triggers a battery-powered stimulator underneath his skin, which sends electrical pulses to an electrode implanted in the middle of his spine.

    Within seconds, the chronic pain has all but gone as the pulses of electricity prevent the pain signals going to his brain.

    John, a former RAF policeman, had tried everything to reduce the phantom leg pain he has suffered since having a leg amputated after a sports injury.

    The pain in his back seems to come from the leg he lost. 'It was very intense, and I've tried medication, morphine, acupuncture - you name it, I've had it all, with little effect.'

    He is now one of a growing number of people being implanted with this latest high-tech pain relief stimulation technology.

    It reduces severe pain caused by a wide range of disorders, from back pain and angina to diabetic leg pain and some types of neuralgia.

    Neuro-stimulation is used to combat pain that has failed to respond to other treatments. The latest trials show that, in many cases, it more than halves the pain, and in some patients all but gets rid of it.

    The treatment involves the stimulation of nerves in the spinal cord with painless, low voltage electrical impulses. It's based on the idea that stimulation triggers the body's pain-blocking system.

    It's thought that a 'gate' in the spinal cord controls the flow of pain signals to the brain. Researchers believe that the body can block these pain signals or close the gate by activating other nerves in part of the spinal cord.

    It works in a similar way to when we vigorously rub an elbow after knocking it to ease the pain. Rubbing masks the feeling of pain in the same way that the tingling produced by the neuro-stimulation system does.

    The technology developed by the Medtronic system includes an implanted neurostimulator, lead and extension wire, and patient and doctor programmers.

    The foot-long lead is placed under the skin near the spine and contains a set of electrodes - with insulated wires - through which the electrical stimulation is delivered to the spinal cord.

    The extension cable, almost 2ft long, is tunnelled under the skin connecting the electrodes to the neuro-stimulator, which is also implanted under the skin in the area around the abdomen. The batterypowered neuro-stimulator - the size of a heart pacemaker - generates electrical impulses that are then sent to the electrodes in the spinal cord to control the pain.

    Once installed, the stimulator is programmed by specialists to deliver the range of stimulation suitable for each patient's level of pain.

    The strength of the signal can be altered to deal with the levels of pain, and the patient has control over the amount of stimulation delivered.

    Neurosurgeons at the Walton Centre for Neurology and Neurosurgery in Liverpool are implanting the stimulators for a range of conditions, including the pain associated with diabetes. The cost is about £6,000 for each implant. One million people in Britain have diabetes and 25 per cent suffer pain, which often does not respond to drugs or other therapies.

    In many cases, the pain is caused by a restricted blood flow in the legs, and the Liverpool surgeons have found that by placing the stimulator in a specific position on the spine, the electric impulses will open up the blood vessels in the leg and ease the pain.

    'We are using the implants in a range of conditions, including diabetic leg pain. Those implanted have usually tried everything else to get rid of the pain,' says Thelekat Varma, consultant neurosurgeon at Liverpool.

    'Most patients can expect a 60 per cent reduction in the perception of pain.

    'We are not entirely sure how it works, but we know it stops the pain signals getting to the brain. Once implanted, people use it when it is needed.'

    John Corbett says: 'The effect has been fantastic thanks to the ease with which I can use the remote control.

    'Most of the pain has gone. It's incredible. When I switch it on there is a lovely, beautiful feeling down to my toes, like a tingling sensation. It has made a huge difference to my life.'


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    ©2002 Associated New Media

    "It was once written "To thine own self be true". But how do we know who we really are? Every man must confront the monster within himself, if he is ever to find peace without. .." Outer Limits(Monster)

  2. #2
    Senior Member alan's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2001
    Baltimore, MD
    Spinal cord stimulators aren't new. I had one implanted in 1985. For some people, they work. For others, no.

  3. #3
    I hade my first implant placed in 2002, the second in 2004. The best thing I have ever done. It has given me my life back. My pain level decreased to a functional 5/10. I was classfied as legally diabled at the age of 30. I will be 40 next month, work as an ER nurse on my feet 14 hours a day, refuse to take narcotic pain meds, and refuse to allow my disabilty to rule my life. I rule it. I still hurt but not to the extent that I did. Pain is a ghost, only I can feel it and no one else can see it. It is there every day. Life handed me lemons after a car accident, I chose to take those lemons and make lemonade instead of sucking them and being a sour puss.

    There are days I can barely move and the pain stimulators are always on maximum strength which means I have surgery every 2 years to have the generators replaced, but I gladly take that over a life filled with narcotics, being bedridden, and miserable. I am joyful to have the opportunity to have a life once again. Life is good. I am productive, happy and healthy. I am alive!

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