David's Story

Patient Gains Control of His Pain Through a Handheld Spinal Cord Stimulation Device

David Callahan had debilitating back pain, but after a procedure to implant electrodes in his spinal cord to control pain, he noticed an immediate difference. “No pain,” he said.

Timothy Ko, MD, an anesthesiologist who specializes in pain medicine, performed the procedure at UH Richmond Medical Center, a Campus of UH Regional Hospitals.

“Often, back pain, which affects almost everyone at some time in their lives, resolves on its own,” said Dr. Ko. “In some cases, medical or surgical intervention is needed. Some patients get relief from physical therapy, medication or injections. When those options do not succeed in relieving pain, we consider spinal cord stimulation.”

Spinal cord stimulation is not a new treatment. In fact, University Hospitals implanted the first spinal cord stimulator in the United States 40 years ago.

In spinal cord stimulation, a trial run is done first. The physician places temporary electrodes on the patient’s spinal cord for five to seven days. If the patient has pain relief, the electrodes are permanently implanted in a surgical procedure. The patient receives a handheld device to control the stimulation to relieve pain.

“The electrodes change the way the spinal cord transmits pain and, thereby, reduces back and leg pain,” said Dr. Ko. “This procedure gives hope to people who have tried everything else.”

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