MADISON COUNTY, AL (WAFF) - Mickey Williams had severe back and leg pains when he underwent surgery for bone spurs, but more surgery was not an option and he came to the Tennessee Valley Pain consultants at Huntsville Hospital.
Steroids and an epidural helped for a little while, but the pain returned. He went through a trial run for a neurostimulation device. Eight weeks ago he had the implant placed under the skin.
He said life before the implant was difficult.
"I had trouble walking, doing just about anything, really physical. Now that I've had the neurostimulator put in I'm actually walking. I enjoy walking. I'm doing more activities, whole lot better in life than I ever have."
Dr. Morris Scherlis performed the procedure.
"The whole idea is that electrodes are placed through a needle stick under x-ray either in a procedure room or an operating room," said Scherlis. "These electrodes will interfere with the normal interpretation of nerve pain."
"The physician will actually make a needle stick in the back and from that there's a lead long metal lead placed in the spinal canal," said Cynthia Bates, Clinical Outreach Specialist for the practice. "From there a small battery will be placed in the hip area and then the wires from the battery will be connected to the lead."
Scherlis said it's very advantageous for the patient.
"Once the implant is in and the incision has healed, patients can swim, they can be active. There certainly are limitations as far as repetitive motion goes, can't do sit ups, the electrodes could move."
"The battery implant is (…) just a little bulge under the skin."
Another device, which can be placed over the implant, helps control how much stimulation he needs.
"I have a machine, I can program this myself," said Williams. "It controls the electrical stimulation for when I'm standing, walking and laying down."
While spinal cord stimulators have been around for decades, there are major technological and design improvements. The procedure for the implant is covered by insurance with pre-approval.