New pain treatment helps Wichita Falls woman regain her life


WICHITA FALLS, TX (KAUZ) - Millions of Americans suffer from chronic pain keeping them from doing things many of us take for granted.

One Wichita Falls woman was one of those people, but now she has regained control of her life thanks to a new treatment.

A BurstDR Stimulator is a device that is implanted in the lower back or abdomen.

It sends pulses to nerves along the spinal cord altering pain signals as they travel to the brain.

These pulses of electrical current actually mimic the body's natural nerve impulse patterns, and this treatment is covered by medical insurance.

With the device, Kari Shaw can now do the things she loves and missed out on, like playing with her dog Tuna.

As she spent time with Tuna playing in her front yard it is hard to tell just six months ago Shaw suffered from chronic pain, something she has dealt with for years.

"I had the full on nerve pain down both legs, that if you've never had it is just an indescribable pain that nothing really helps," Shaw said.

It kept her from doing almost everything.

"I think it was two years that I didn't even go to the grocery store," said Shaw. "I would work as long as I could and then come home and lay on an ice pack and then do it again the next day."

Shaw said dealing with the intense pain caused her to become depressed and gain a lot of weight.

"You know whenever you're just trying to work as long as you can and then come home and you're completely inactive, social activities just ceased completely,"

Shaw tried a lot of treatments including two spinal surgeries, going to the chiropractor, physical therapy, and acupuncture.

"I bought the thing where you hang upside your doorway for decompression, pretty much any snake oil that someone was selling I was buying," Shaw said.

Shaw's doctor Aaron Lloyd said the BurstDR Stimulation filters out the pain, keeping the patient's brain from noticing the pain sensation at all.

"The brain uses burst stimulation to the surrounding to suppress you from getting distracted from anything other than what you are supposed to be doing," Dr. Lloyd said.

Dr. Lloyd said this makes the outside symptoms less important and compares it to malware used to protect computers.

Shaw said the stimulator gives her pain relief that she has not felt in over five years.

"And you know you can't feel that electric pulse, it's like it's not even there," Shaw said.

Dr. Lloyd said that is important in order for patients to live the life they once had because physical pain can lead to emotional pain.

"The same neurotransmitters that send pain messages are the ones that get out of balanced in patients with depression," Dr. Lloyd said.

The first thing he asks patients when they come into his office looking for a cure to their chronic pain is what they want to be able to do that they cannot.

"Because that's the type of thing that causes depression, not being able to be the person you wanted to be," Dr. Lloyd said.

Shaw said that is exactly what she can do now, what she wants when she wants. Like taking road trips, getting on a plane and enjoying the things she once did.

"My husband will say you know I can't believe you are doing this stuff," Shaw said. "We've recently flown to Virginia, went to a concert, so it's just kind of getting all that back is just insane."

While her husband is excited to have his wife back, Shaw's pup Tuna is delighted as well.

"I'm not pain-free every single day," said Shaw. "I do have some days where I don't have pain at all, but the pain that I do have is nowhere near the pain I was having."

Dr. Lloyd said for decades many people focused on masking the pain which has been a major contributor to the opioid epidemic.

That is one of the many reasons Shaw is grateful for the spinal cord stimulator, it allows her to remain clear headed without taking prescription pain medications.

She said she hopes sharing her story will let others who deal with chronic pain know they are not alone and that help is out there.

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