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Businessman walks again after two years of chronic pain

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    Businessman walks again after two years of chronic pain

    Chronic pain that plagued Donnie Juneau for two years has stopped, but the memory is vivid.

    "Your feet never quit hurting, unless they were elevated," the 59-year-old said. "It was like walking on hot needles. That's the best way to describe it."

    The day he felt relief, he walked for three hours around his Shreveport business, B&J Floor Service. That was as long as he had been lasting, per day, doing office work.

    The cure resulted from implantable spinal cord technology, and Juneau is the first local patient to receive the most advanced version. Dr. William S. Whyte II of Louisiana Pain Physicians oversaw the process to implant a device that tricks the brain into thinking it's feeling numbness or vibration rather than pain.

    A titanium-encased device slightly larger than a walnut is put two inches under the skin, usually near the back. From that device, two strands made of platinum and iridium transmit electrodes up either side of the spine. The strands, called "leads," sit just below the skin's surface.

    Also referred to as "pacemaker for the spine," the system is known for helping comedian Jerry Lewis overcome chronic pain.

    The technology has been around for 20 years, but the latest incarnation released a year and a half ago by Advanced Bionics includes a rechargeable battery and multiplies the number of openings for electrodes.

    "There are three main companies that do this," Whyte said. "This is an example of how competition is extremely good in medicine."

    Juneau's Precision Spinal Cord Stimulation System is made by Advanced Bionics, but Medtronic and Advanced Neuromodulation Systems also have FDA permission to market such systems. Neurostimulation, first developed to help regulate the heart, is also used to combat incontinence, epileptic seizures and hearing problems. Tests in progress include using electrodes to treat obesity and to help stroke victims regain movement in arms and legs.

    Juneau's problem is called neuropathy, and it resulted from a reaction to drugs he took after a kidney transplant. Neuropathy, common in people with diabetes, affects the feet or hands and can feel like numbness, pins and needles or burning pain, Whyte said.

    And while painkillers can ease the sensation, in Juneau's case he was taking so many pills it was impeding his life.

    "The issue with pain medicine is tolerance," Whyte said. "The longer you take them, the less effective they are."

    The spine stimulation system, though, is designed to last for 25 years. It's supposed to be recharged about once every three weeks, and the patient can do that task in about 30 seconds using a special belt.

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    i wish my SCS had worked that well! my weight bearing walking pain problems are a combination of stenosis, neuropathy from my spine injury, than RSD from landing hard on my foot . Now i have compression of foot nerves due to atrophied denerved muscles in foot , and probably arthritis due to denerved and poor blood flow. i use an AFO with oxycodone and ultram and a shoe that doesn't touch my toes , i actually now can walk quite a bit, i am extremely fortunate that i am near a train to NYC since i cant drive on these meds . i load up on meds and walk.
    cauda equina