Conclusive Evidence

New approach to spinal cord stimulation provides superior relief.

After her children began attending school, Deborah Boneta began looking for a way to get out of the house and do something productive with her time. She read that the United States Postal Service was hiring, so she applied and got the job.

Deborah’s spinal cord stimulator gives her 95 percent relief from her back pain.

“I took a test, passed and was hired,” Deborah remembers. “I stayed there for 28 years. I delivered mail for 14 years and then worked as a clerk in the post office. I enjoyed delivering mail because I was out there talking to people and getting the job done. But mostly I liked working by myself.”

In the late 1990s, Deborah was in an accident while delivering mail that aggravated a longstanding back injury.

“I slipped into a canal. At the time, I continued doing my job, but then I started feeling back pain, which got worse a few years later,” she describes.

“It got really bad around 2001. I was experiencing a lot of back pain and pain shooting down my leg. It was difficult to shop and prepare meals because I couldn’t stand for very long. I had to find somewhere to sit down. And I would get worn out very quickly.

The agony lasted several years.

“There were days when the pain was an eight on a scale of one to 10,” she remembers. “But I continued doing my job and what needed to be done at home.”

Deborah sought relief through chiropractic, physical therapy and spinal injections. Back surgery helped for a while, but the pain returned worse than before.

Then, she turned to the internet.

“I researched online and saw that Dr. Cordner offers treatments for people in a lot of pain,” Deborah states. “I thought he might have an answer for my pain.”

Harold J. Cordner, MD, of Florida Pain Management Associates, has an arsenal of noninterventional and interventional services for managing pain. One is spinal cord stimulation.

With spinal cord stimulation, an implanted device impedes pain by sending electronic waves in the form of a gentle tingling or massaging sensation to the spine.

After examining Deborah, Dr. Cordner recommended spinal cord stimulation and asked if she would consider participating in a study his practice was conducting to determine the effectiveness of a new form of stimulation.

Deborah agreed, and after a successful seven-day trial to determine the potential efficacy of the treatment, the stimulator was implanted in May 2019.

Cellular Communication

The study was aimed at determining whether differential target multiplex, or DTM, would provide patients with more relief than conventional stimulation.

“With conventional stimulation, we target the nerve cells in the spinal cord,” Dr. Cordner explains. “But 90 percent of the spinal cord comprises other cells, called glial cells, that are involved in many of the pain conditions we treat.

Ten years of research was conducted on stimulating glial cells with electricity to reduce pain, Dr. Cordner says.

The 12-month DTM study was the first in humans looking at the effectiveness of that approach.

Participants had back and/or leg pain that lasted an average of more than 12 years. As part of the research, half of the patients were given conventional spinal cord stimulation and half were put into the study group that received the new stimulation.

“The spinal cord stimulator does the job.” – Deborah

“Deborah was part of the study group and responded very well,” the doctor informs. “She reported greater than 80 percent relief during her stimulator trial.”

The study’s results show that 69 percent of patients with the new stimulation were profound responders, meaning they experienced 80 to 100 percent pain relief. With conventional stimulation, about 35 percent of patients experienced that level of relief.

“Further, when we look at patients who are successful long term with spinal cord stimulators, the results with conventional stimulation is about 50 percent, whereas about 84 percent with DTM stimulation are successful,”

Dr. Cordner observes.

“Typically, patients grade their pain on a scale of one to 10,” Dr. Cordner informs. “The average back pain score for the study participants was 7.5. After the study, it was 1.7. That’s profound pain relief. The study results show conclusively that DTM stimulation is superior to conventional spinal cord stimulation.”

Now, Florida Pain Management Associates is opening two new studies. The first will look at the effects of DTM stimulation in patients with back and/or leg pain who have not had previous surgery. The second will look at patients who continue to experience neck or upper extremity pain despite undergoing surgery or trying other therapies.

“Patients who are interested in participating in one of these studies can contact our office for enrollment information,” Dr. Cordner notes. “We’re excited to give our patients an opportunity to receive newer, superior treatments for pain.”

Waves of Relief

Deborah says she’s glad that she agreed to participate in the trial because spinal cord stimulation has given her the pain relief other therapies could not.

“The device is definitely helping me,” she says. “I’m feeling really good now. I started feeling better shortly after the surgery to implant the stimulator. Now, I’m receiving 95 percent pain relief.”

Deborah says she can do all the everyday activities that she could before the pain intensified, including standing for long periods. That’s important for her because she volunteers with The Salvation Army and crochets blankets for Boggy Creek, a camp for seriously ill children and their families.

“My treatment at Florida Pain Management Associates is a success, and I highly recommend it to anyone with back or leg pain,” she concludes. “The spinal cord stimulator does the job, and I highly recommend Dr. Cordner as well. In fact, I’ve already talked to other people about him.”

© FHCN article by Patti DiPanfilo. FHCN file photo. mkb
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