Finding Hope Again
The story of Ron Amsden

Two traumatic back injuries left Ron Amsden suffering from severe pain until he came to St. Luke’s.

In 1997, Ron Amsden injured his back moving an industrial refrigerator unit causing one disk to herniate and two more to bulge painfully. Successful back surgery, enabled him to return to work. However, in 2000, he was working on a roof, holding the safety rope for a colleague. The co-worker slipped and Amsden was almost pulled off the roof himself. Holding the weight of the other man proved to be too much for Amsden’s back. It weakened the fusion and exacerbated the bulged disks. “That day was the last time I worked,” he says eight years later.

In a long quest for recovery Ron tried pain medication, physical therapy, muscle/skeletal manipulation and two epidural injections – anything to help alleviate the pain and soothe his injury. Some treatments gave brief relief but rarely for more than a few days. “My future just kept getting darker and darker,” he says. “I’d get my hopes up then boom (treatment) wouldn’t work. It was really depressing.”

Finally in 2007, he got a referral to St. Luke’s Rehabilitation Institute Pain Clinic, an intensive interdisciplinary treatment program.

“When I first started at St. Luke’s it was scary and it was hard and painful… I’d get home and feel like crying it hurt so bad.” But he trusted the team and kept with it, and by the second week was experiencing noticeable improvement in both his function and his pain level. “I got stronger and the pain got better,” he says.

Ron is now off prescription pain killers and his pain level averages a one on a scale of one to ten. Before treatment he considered a pain level of seven as having a great day. “Everyday I wake up and have energy,” says Amsden, adding that he walks to the bus stop with his daughter now, something he wouldn’t have attempted before. And he has new hope for his future, which he attributes to the St. Luke’s Pain Clinic. “There is hope so that is awesome… you get a goal, something worth living for. Before I just never wanted to get out of my chair. I’m 100 percent different. I’m positive.”

Amsden has enrolled in college to study civil engineering and is looking forward to a productive and largely pain free life, continuing to use the pain management and injury techniques he learned in the Pain Clinic, including core stabilization, breathing techniques, tricks he learned during biofeedback and proper nutrition.

His only regret is not knowing about and getting into the St. Luke’s Pain Clinic earlier. “I wish I knew about it because I would have tried to get in sooner,” he says. “If I could have got in there sooner I would have had my life back years ago.”

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