After rupturing a disk in his lower back, retired cardiologist Dr. Terrance Judge had a diskectomy and fusion. The surgery was successful and he returned to his active lifestyle, which included skiing, tennis and flying.
But about two years later, he developed low back pain again. “It prevented me from being physically active. I stopped playing tennis and skiing.”
He tried massage therapy and over-the-counter pain medication, but it didn’t help much, he says. Then he read an article about Intramuscular Stimulation (IMS) therapy performed by Dr. Goodman at St. Luke’s Physiatry Practice at St. Luke’s Rehabilitation Institute.
IMS uses thin, flexible needles to stimulate tightened muscles. The muscle cramps around the needle, much like a charley horse, then relaxes, providing pain relief while also increasing blood flow to the area which promotes healing and the release of lactic acid and other toxins trapped in the muscle.
Dr. Judge was intrigued. “I had never heard of the technique until I read about it. I do read the New England Journal and medical articles about back pain and I hadn’t heard about this,” he says. “It is not in common knowledge in the medical profession.”
Wondering if the treatment might help, he clipped the article and took it to his doctor, who had also never heard of IMS. Willing to give the treatment a try his doctor gave him a referral. “I wasn’t sure I was going to get relief but I was hoping for relief,” says Dr. Judge.
After eleven treatments, Dr. Judge says the pain has gradually improved enough that he can walk around the park and workout again. “I wasn’t able to do that before.”
While he hasn’t yet returned to skiing or tennis, he can ride a bike at his club. “If I did that before, the next day I would be hurting. Physical activity would increase the pain.”
On a pain scale of 1 to 10, Dr. Judge says before treatment with physical activity his pain was between 6 and 8. Now it’s between 2 and 3 with activity, which is manageable.
“I’m much freer to get up and walk around and do things. It doesn’t bother me to go to grocery store and shop and go downtown,” he says, explaining that before treatment those activities caused too much back pain. “Before treatment I was doing just about nothing.”
Now, he says, “I get up early and am active all day long…I don’t have to be as cautious anymore.