Mercy's Dr. David Maine Discusses Minimally Invasive Approach to Treating Chronic Pain-Implantable Spinal Cord Stimulator

March 26, 2018
The Center for Interventional Pain Medicine at Mercy

Treating chronic pain can be difficult. Pain relief medication isn't for everyone, and neither is surgery.

For some patients, there is minimally invasive treatment that can take the pain away.

"To me, it was a miracle," patient Virginia Zimmerman said.

The miracle Zimmerman was talking about is a spinal cord stimulator that was implanted in her back for chronic pain, something she had lived with for decades.

Implantable spinal cord stimulators for chronic pain are similar to a pacemaker that delivers electric pulses to the spinal cord to relieve pain.  The stimulation “waveform” works by timing its pulses in a way intended to mimic the natural firing patterns in the brain. This is thought to affect sensory and emotional neural pathways and provide relief from painful sensations and a person’s conscious attention to pain.

"I couldn't walk long distances because the pain will get to like a 10 and shoot down my leg and it would be horrible," Zimmerman said.

She had two prior back surgeries, and was not going to have another.

Dr. David Maine, Director of The Center for Interventional Pain Medicine at Mercy Medical Center, suggested testing out the pain-relief device. That trial period determines if a patient is a candidate and also gives someone like Zimmerman the chance to see what it's like.

"You get to see how it feels, if it makes sense, and if it doesn't work during the trial ... the harm is minimal -- you take it out. It's generally low-risk and (has a) low-complication rate," Dr. Maine said.

According to Dr. Maine, the technology continues to improve, and that's encouraging for so many patients.
"Pain affects more people than cancer, diabetes, heart disease combined, over 100 million people. It's a big deal," Maine said.

It's a big deal for Zimmerman.

"It's awesome. I don't have to take pain medicine," Zimmerman said.

View Dr. David Maine’s interview regarding implantable spinal cord stimulators for chronic pain relief.


Dan Collins - Senior Director of Media Relations at Mercy Medical Center

Dan Collins, Senior Director of Media Relations

Email: dcollins@mdmercy.com Office: 410-332-9714 Cell: 410-375-7342

About Mercy

Founded in 1874, Mercy Medical Center is a university-affiliated medical facility named one of the top 100 hospitals in the U.S. by Thomson-Reuters with a national reputation for women’s health. Mercy is home to the nationally acclaimed Weinberg Center for Women’s Health and Medicine as well as the $400+ million, 20-story Mary Catherine Bunting Center. For more information visit Mercy online at www.mdmercy.com, Facebook, Twitter or call 1-800-MD-MERCY.

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