NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — There was an important development Friday, for the estimated 90-million Americans who suffer with chronic pain.
It’s not a drug or surgery, it’s an electric stimulator, and as CBS2’s Dr. Max Gomez explained, it’s very different from previous pain blockers.
Genene Paul Dawson injured her back at work two years ago.
“Sometimes I cry. I’m tearing up right now, because the pain is so excruciating. And to feel pain-free, be pain-free, I would be so happy,” Dawson said.
Dawson recently underwent a procedure at Mount Sinai Hospital that could ease her pain.
Thin wires were threaded into her spine and connected to a small implanted battery-powered stimulator.
“The new FDA approved Axium Neurostimulator System is unlike other electrical pain blockers because it targets the dorsal root ganglion or DRG, the growth alongside the spinal cord that contains the nerve cells that transmit only sensory information to the brain. That means fewer of the side effects that can happen with electrical stimulators placed on the spinal cord itself.
“It turns off painful stimuli only, which is very unique,” Dr. Lawrence Epstein explained.
Patients then receive a handheld device –kind of a remote control that they can use to adjust the stimulation depending on their pain level.
Robert Zuckerman recently had the procedure after 11 years of pain following leg surgery. It’s caused his pain level to change significantly.
“Probably 1 or 2. It used to be about 9 or 10,” he said.
He rarely takes the painkillers that he used to depend on.
“If you had like a magic wand and you had some pain and then all of a sudden you had no pain, what would you think about it?” he said.
Dawson hopes the device puts her worst pain behind her as well.
The Axium device could help a variety of chronic pain problems, it’s most helpful for a condition called complex regional pain syndrome that can result from damaged nerves after trauma.
CRPS is extremely difficult to treat and this could be the relief those patients have been hoping for.