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Spinal Cord Stimulation Helps Relieve Debilitating Back Pain

Lydia Michaux was training a fellow employee in September of 1994. When a heavy piece of equipment began to fall, Lydia stood in the way and took the brunt of it.

The other employee was unhurt. But Lydia felt that she herself may have pulled a muscle in her back.

Over the next 15 minutes, Lydia’s pain got more severe. As she walked toward the break room to sit down, the pain dropped her to her knees. This was the beginning of an ordeal that would last Lydia more than 14 years.

Lydia soon realized that the pain in her back was not going away. She went to see her doctor, who referred her to a back specialist. The main course of treatment she received was epidurals, or pain injections directly into the spine. These treatments worked at times, but eventually, the pain became so unbearable Lydia could no longer walk.

“I became agoraphobic,” Lydia recalls. “I didn’t want people to see me in pain.”

In August of 2005—11 years after her injury—Lydia would have lumbar fusion surgery to bond her L4 and L5 vertebrae with two titanium rods and six titanium pins. After the surgery, she was referred to Dr. Joel Kent at the URMC Pain Center.

While Lydia healed from her surgery, Dr. Kent helped treat her ongoing pain with injections. But after two years passed, Lydia’s spinal fusion still had not taken away her pain, and the injections were providing little lasting relief.

Dr. Kent told Lydia that she might be a perfect candidate for SCS—Spinal Cord Stimulation. This device interrupts the nerve signal at the spinal cord.

“He said it would be like a pacemaker for my back,” Lydia recalls. “I would have a little controller, and turn it on myself.”

The SCS device was implanted during a 3-hour surgery. Lydia went home from the hospital that night. When she turned on the SCS device that evening, her life began to change.

“It does a great deal,” says Lydia. “If I hadn’t gotten it, I might not be able to walk. Now things are looking up!”

She has only good things to say about the people at the URMC Pain Center.

“They are wonderful people,” says Lydia. “They are very thorough. And when I talk, they listen! I would recommend the Pain Center to anyone.”

She also has important advice for other people who have injuries like hers:

“Don’t wait, like I did,” she says. “The sooner you get it, the better your outcome.”