Spinal procedure treats pain as alternative to opioids
Rochester, N.Y. (WHAM) - Walking down the sidewalk may seem simple, but a year ago, Michael Holtz was in too much pain to walk.
To help ease the pain, he would use opioids for pain relief.
“I’ve had nerve damage along the leg and been in nothing but chronic pain. I was at the end of my rope. What do I gotta do to get out of this pain? It was terrible,” said Holtz.
Holtz has degenerative disk disease and has had more than 20 surgeries for chronic pain, taking a variety of prescription drugs including opioids.
“You’re basically on another planet with these pills. You’re not there. You’re incoherent. You’re tired all the time. Your whole lifestyle changes completely around.”
Struggling with depression, and desperate for pain relief, Holtz tried everything.
Dr. Boev, a neurosurgeon at the Boev Clinic, said Holtz was like many patients who are hitting a wall to manage their chronic pain.
“He had tried cortisone injections, epidurals, acupuncture, physical therapy, a number of different blocks, radiofrequency ablation is a spinal nerves and continued to be quite dysfunctional with the pain," said Dr. Boev.
Dr. Boev used spinal cord stimulation to provide relief for Holtz.
Here's how it works: a small device consisting of wires and a battery is surgically implanted in a patient, controlling pain by delivering electrical impulses to the spine to block pain signals.
“This therapy also gives the patient an opportunity to control the sensation, the stimulation, the intensity of what they’re getting themselves, vis a vi a bluetooth device,” Dr. Boev explained.
Now six months later, Holtz controls his own pain.
“I’ll keep it at this set number: 25.4. I’m feeling good. It can go up and you’ll feel a higher current,” Holtz showed 13 WHAM's Samantha Miles.
The device is helping thousands of patients like Holtz suffering from chronic pain, get off medications, and avoid opioids
“It does not involve a drug,” Dr. Boev added. “It avoids the issues with dependence on medications and certainly with over treatment and undertreatment and withdrawal.”
Holtz is thankful today he doesn't have to depend on prescription drugs.
“When I was on the medication, I wasn’t myself. I was miserable. I was lashing out at people. It just wasn’t me. Then when I got on the stimulator, it was a life changer. It really was.”
A spinal cord stimulator costs $23,000. Its average life span is ten years. It’s remotely charged through the Bluetooth device. It’s a one-time surgery. You can swim and go on an airplane with it.
For more information and insurance coverage, visit this website.