Failed back surgery (FBS) pain is a real bugaboo. It leads to chronic neck, arm, or back pain and/or leg pain that occurs after surgery. The most common complaints with FBS include burning and aching pain involving the back and/or legs. Patients can report sharp, stabbing pain into the extremities.
Surgery is excellent for removing points of compression in the spine. Treating a localized disc bulge or removing part of a bone that presses directly on a nerve (laminectomy) can eliminate the original nerve pressure. However “pinched” nerves are not the only source of pain in spinal problems. Chronic inflammation can arise from diffuse arthritis, surgical adhesions, fibrous scar tissue, and osteoarthritis, all contributing to unrelenting FBS pain. Additional surgery usually does not help and can even make the situation worse by further traumatizing the tissues, creating additional adhesions and scar tissue.
Jenny came into our office and was crying as she recited her history of spinal pain. Jenny, now 50 years old, had been in a major car wreck when she was 16. She was the only survivor of a car full of teenagers. The accident left her in a coma for over a month, and she required multiple spine surgeries involving metal rods and fusions to stabilize her broken spine.
Thirty years later, she presents with relentless chronic back, hip, neck, and arm pain. Reading reports by several of her treating doctors over the years impresses one with the compassion they exhibited, as one treatment approach after another was tried without measurable success. Finally, one doctor suggested she give alternative medicine a try in a last-ditch effort to find relief.
After our consultation with Jenny, and an extensive examination, it was determined that most of her pain arose from post-surgical scar tissue and chronic inflammation, impacting nerves in her neck and low back with pain into her fingertips and right leg. After talking with jenny, she agreed to a trial course in acupuncture with microstim. This involves traditional acupuncture procedures with the addition of computerized microstim applied through the needles. This has the effect of amplifying energy in the local area, softening scar tissue and adhesions as well as breaking down the trapped inflammatory acids in the tissues that contribute to chronic pain.
Jenny was finally able to get relief with microstim acupuncture treatments. After just a few treatments, she was able to sleep through the night. This was a miracle for her after years of waking up in pain and pacing the floor for hours.
Donna was another candidate for this new treatment. She had surgery 10 years earlier for a low-back condition and, while she initially had good results, her pain returned with a vengeance 18 months later. After enduring spinal injections, rounds of physical therapy, and a “nerve burning,” she was still in disabling pain. In our office, we found a great deal of local low-back inflammation and swelling. She began a course of acupuncture microstim treatments that afforded her a great deal of relief.
Acupuncture is based on the idea that the body is able to heal itself as long as it can freely circulate what the Chinese refer to as Qi (pronounced “chi”) energy. Doctors of chiropractic refer to this energy as the “innate healing energy of the body”while the medical profession refers to it as “vitalistic energy”—different names for the same thing. Acupuncture stimulates energy at the points treated. The application of microstim through the needles “turbocharges” this energy. Even modern orthopedic surgeons are using “bone stimulators” to accelerate bone regrowth in bad bone fractures.
Microstim acupuncture techniques have also been used successfully in other failed surgery cases. For example, they are quite effective in cases of carpal tunnel syndrome, shoulder adhesive capsulitis, and post-surgical knee replacement pain. The source of pain is usually the soft tissues surrounding the area with a chronic inflammation and long-term pain and disability.
Acupuncture treatments are safe, effective, and non-addictive, unlike traditional narcotic approaches to chronic pain. To see if you might benefit from this new procedure, consult with a doctor who practices acupuncture with microstim.❦
If you would like more information on acupuncture or chiropractic, please visit our website at www.acupuncturetoledo.com. Dr. Schwan is available to speak at your group’s function on a wide variety of alternative medicine topics, such as chiropractic, acupuncture, herbal medicine, cold laser, nutrition, vitamins, etc. He is a graduate of the International Academy of Medical Acupuncture & Palmer College of Chiropractic. He is president of Schwan Chiropractic & Acupuncture Clinic in Toledo, Ohio.