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What every chronic pain sufferer needs to know

Posted 12/14/20

According to a new survey from Boston Scientific of people with chronic pain, nearly 60 percent in Arizona aren’t satisfied with their current treatment or therapies. Arizona resident Robert …

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What every chronic pain sufferer needs to know

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According to a new survey from Boston Scientific of people with chronic pain, nearly 60 percent in Arizona aren’t satisfied with their current treatment or therapies. Arizona resident Robert Allsop can relate.

As a devoted stock car racer and crane operator, his pain in his back developed after a lifetime of physical activity, accidents, and wear and tear. Allsop tried multiple procedures, which didn’t provide relief, and he said he couldn’t function while taking prescription medications.

The pain in his back was so debilitating that he had to eventually stop working as he couldn't move far enough to see out of the crane. “Pain is debilitating not just physically, but mentally and emotionally because there’s no escaping it. When you’re in pain, it’s just difficult to function.”

According to the CDC, more than 50 million chronic pain sufferers nationwide are struggling with pain that lasts for six months or longer without finding relief.[1] One of the most common reasons that adults seek medical care, chronic pain has been linked to restrictions in mobility and daily activities, dependence on opioids, anxiety and depression, and reduced quality of life.1 Unfortunately, less than half of those surveyed in Arizona are aware of drug-free, minimally-invasive, interventional therapies helping patients such as Allsop return to activities they love and regain hope for their future.

Allsop sought help from a pain management specialist – a doctor specially trained to address acute and chronic pain. That’s when he learned about spinal cord stimulation (SCS).

SCS is an FDA-approved implanted medical device that interrupts pain signals from reaching the brain. Unlike some surgical procedures, it can be personalized to an individual’s needs and is reversible.

Patients undergo a trial period, allowing them to evaluate and adjust the pain relief delivered before deciding to receive a permanent implant. Initially, Allsop didn’t know much about this treatment, but after completing his trial and full implantation with the Boston Scientific Spectra WaveWriter SCS System, he champions it.

“Before SCS, my pain forced me to give up my active lifestyle, which was hard. Now there are very few limitations on what I can do,” says Allsop, who is back to racing, hiking, hunting and even taking his wife out to dance the two-step.

“The experience of chronic pain is complex and unique to every person. But pain management specialists have many tools in our arsenal that can provide adequate, lasting, personalized pain relief,” says Dr. Kirk Bowden, a pain specialist at the Valley Pain Consultants in Arizona.

The new survey found that 90 percent of chronic pain sufferers in Arizona would try an FDA-approved, drug-free alternative to help manage chronic pain, but less than half have ever seen a pain specialist.

Dr. Bowden notes that for patients with chronic pain in the lower back, legs and feet, SCS offers a personalized experience that can treat multiple pain areas simultaneously. For those suffering from moderate lumbar spinal stenosis, interspinous spacers may relieve pain and discomfort in the lower back, legs, groin and buttocks. Alternatively, radiofrequency ablation delivers a small current to interrupt pain signals at the source.

To find a local pain management specialist and learn more about chronic pain, visit www.pain.com, an educational site from Boston Scientific. You can also take a pain assessment quiz and connect with other patients.

Life with chronic pain can be all-encompassing. However, experts say that non-drug therapies are providing tangible relief to patients. Individual results may vary.

[1] Prevalence of Chronic Pain and High-Impact Chronic Pain Among Adults — United States, 2016. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Weekly / September 14, 2018 / 67(36);1001–1006 https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/67/wr/mm6736a2.htm#:~:text=In%202016%2C%20an%20estimated%2020.4,adults%20with%20public%20health%20insurance. Last accessed on 8/16/2020

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