New spinal cord stimulator ditches tingling, buzzing sensations

HOUSTONDoing housework makes Deanna Conley, 77, happy. A lifetime of back pain used to make it impossible.

“I was 39 when I had my first back surgery. I’ve had three since then, and two in my neck,” Conley said.

Despite the surgeries, nothing would relieve the pain and pressure.

“It would get worse and worse and worse and worse until you couldn’t stand," she said. "You would have to sit down."

Dr. Michael Bottros recommended a new spinal cord stimulator. It’s a tiny device that delivers electrical pulses to nerves, interrupting pain signals. Doctors place the leads in the spine with a small needle.

“With an implant, we’ll go ahead and anchor those leads in the area that we want them to be in, and then we’ll make another small incision for the battery,” Bottros said.

Conley charges the battery at home. By placing the charger pad against her back, the stimulator batteries refresh in about 30 minutes. A remote control allows her to adjust the stimulation if needed.

“I haven’t used that walker since the day I got this,” Conley said.

“When you’re in pain all the time, it’s debilitating. We have our mom back. It’s amazing,” her daughter, Sherri, said.

While spinal cord stimulators have been used to relieve chronic pain for decades, several new versions have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration in the past 18 months. The newly approved versions no longer create a tingling or buzzing sensation for the patient.

KPRC Channel 2 found several facilities in the Houston area that offer the procedure to implant the spinal cord stimulator:

To use a physician finder, click here.