Neurostimulation Case Study With a Patient

Spinal Cord Stimulation, also known as neurostimulation or neuromodulation, has become a widely-discussed method of pain management in the last few years.  A case study regarding neurostimulation with a Premier Pain Centers patient was recently featured in HealthViews Magazine, published through Meridian Health.


Louis Turano, 84, had been working with Premier Pain’s Sean Li, MD, to control his back pain, a problem he had been dealing with stemming from an accident in 2003.  Earlier this year, Louis’ doctors offered him a new option: neurostimulation.


“Neurostimulation is like a pacemaker for your spinal cord,” says Dr. Li. “The device sends electrical impulses to the spinal cord and blocks out pain signals to the brain. It produces a mild buzzing vibration to the spine, which prevents the pain signal from getting through to the brain. So while the pain may still be there, the patient doesn’t experience it as much.”


The operation is performed using minimally invasive techniques with two small incisions.  Most patients go home either the same or next day.


As sophisticated as neurostimulation may seem, there are two components that make the technology Louis had implanted even more advanced. The first is the internal GPS system, which automatically adjusts the stimulation depending on what position he’s in, whether he’s sitting, standing, or lying down.


It’s also safe for patients to undergo an MRI, which wasn’t the case with older neurostimulation devices because the magnet in the MRI could damage the wires. Louis’ neurostimulator has thermal insulated wires that keep it safe during an MRI. Louis was the first patient in New Jersey and one of the first in the country to receive this new neurostimulator.


“Being able to have an MRI is a huge deal because many patients have additional conditions and an MRI is often the best imaging available to us,” Dr. Li adds. In fact, after having the device implanted, Louis safely underwent an MRI to examine a separate issue in his neck.


Within weeks of the surgery, Louis’ pain, which was once a 10 on a 10-point scale, had improved by 75 percent. He no longer needs any of the pain medication he used to take daily.


“Before, even walking was painful, but I recently spent five hours outside working in the yard and felt fine,” Louis says. This fall, he and his wife even went dancing for the first time in years.


“Despite my wobbly legs, I was able to dance pretty well without the pain that used to drag me down,” he says. “I’m hoping we can do it again soon.”

The complete article is available in the January/February 2014 edition of HealthViews Magazine.