During a workplace injury in 2005, Keith Schwartz received two compression fractures in his spine. The back trauma led to chronic pain, spasms and burning sensations that persisted through a host of treatments. He tried physical therapy,chiropractic care, massage therapy and pain medication with little relief.
“It persisted. Three months after the injury I started having burning pains in my groin and shooting in my feet – a needle stabbing feeling. My feet would go numb or sting based on how active I was trying to be,” he says.
Schwartz went to a spinal diagnostics specialist and a neurologist. He tried a nerve treatment designed to alleviate the pain. “They give you an injection with a solution that burns your nerves. It’s called threshold resetting. They make you hurt worse than you were hurting to trick your brain. But as that went away my
pain just took back over.”
He also tried different medications to manage the pain but experienced side effects. “It affected my thinking,” he says. “I wasn’t me. I’m not really a pill person.”
In the fall of 2008, Schwartz had a spinal cord stimulator surgically implanted that sends an electrical signal through the body to disrupt and alleviate pain. “It feels like a range of tingling to heavy vibration to mask the pain.”
While the stimulator enabled him to stop taking pain medication, it wasn’t effective in the groin area and needed to be turned up. Schwartz says his shooting and burning pain was so strong and frequent he needed the stimulator on all the time, day and night. “It was on 24/7. At the time, I couldn’t even sleep without getting shooters that wake me up. It’s like when you hit your funny bone, in your body. I’d get those in my feet, like somebody just stabbed me on the big toe. It would go away and five minutes later do it again.”
Even with the stimulator on, Schwartz says he had trouble sitting or sleeping or doing daily activities that required any bending over. “My back still hurt,” he says. He wrote his doctor a letter, describing his pain and she referred him to Dr. Goodman Intramuscular Stimulation (IMS) treatment.
“I didn’t realize how much your muscles are affected when you get hurt. The muscles just won’t let go in physical therapy or massage therapy. This treatment, that is what it does, it tenses the muscles and relaxes. The repeated process helps that muscle go back to what was normal,” says Schwartz, describing
His improvement since beginning IMS treatment, Schwartz says, was gradual, but after two weeks he saw a difference and he stopped wearing a back brace.
“As time goes on it gets better and better,” he says. “Before IMS, just turning over in bed was a struggle for my back, regardless of nerve pain or not. That is reduced significantly. I’m getting around a lot better. I’m doing things that before would set it off pretty quick.”
After two months, Schwartz says he stopped using the stimulator at night and could wait several hours before needing it during the day. “I could lay down and rest. I could sleep. The nerve pain sensations quit waking me up at night,” he says.
For the first time in two years he could go to a movie and help his wife unload groceries from the car. Before the IMS treatments, he says the pain was too much for those activities.
“Before I had to constantly be careful with everything I was doing or trying to do. I just tried to avoid bending over. Since the pain levels have dropped down and the stimulator can be more effective, I can do stuff without setting it off.”
Schwartz is continuing to see that gradual improvement that has helped him get back to living life. “Functioning in life I’m a lot better off. The back itself and the muscle, I don’t have near as much pain.”