Upstate man has groundbreaking surgery to alleviate chronic pain - FOX Carolina 21

Upstate man has groundbreaking surgery to alleviate chronic pain

Posted: Updated:
Gene Smith undergoes surgery to help his chronic back pain. (Sept. 17, 2013/FOX Carolina) Gene Smith undergoes surgery to help his chronic back pain. (Sept. 17, 2013/FOX Carolina)
GREER, SC (FOX Carolina) -

A medical breakthrough has one Upstate man getting his life back after a life-changing surgery.

Gene Smith slipped on a sheet of ice in January of 2011. For two years he struggled with chronic back pain. In fact, the pain was so unbearable, he was unable to travel to see his new grandchild. He still had not seen her before his surgery.

"My whole lifestyle changed," Gene Smith said.

The road was long leading up to his surgery Monday. His wife, Cindy, stood by him through it all.

"We spent almost one year with a pain management doctor that just gave out prescriptions," Cindy Smith said.

However, physicians and surgeons at Interventional Pain Management and Associates stepped in to save Gene Smith from his ongoing agony.

Monday, Gene Smith put on a surgery gown and prepared for the two-hour procedure at Village at Pelham Hospital in Greer. He lay on his stomach as Dr. Kevin Walker prepared the area on his lower back, where two small tubes called leads would be inserted up the spinal cord.

These leads are part of a huge breakthrough in medical technology targeting chronic pain.

"[The leads are] implanted just behind the spinal cord, and these small units will stimulate different portions of the spinal cord, changing the painful impulses that the patients have coming from either their back or their limbs to a much more pleasurable type of vibratory sensation," said Dr. Blake Lesche, who also performed the procedure.

In other words, the new technology can help convert pain into pleasure. A few weeks after the surgery, Gene Smith should be able to feel a massaging sensation whenever the pain kicks in.

"Thank you, thanks so much," he said to the doctors after the surgery. Within minutes, he was up and walking out of the hospital to his new life.

The procedure will also help cut Gene Smith's hours at the doctor's office.

"They don't have to go every month or two to have their medications changed or have an injection, so it doesn't change their quality of life," Lesche said.

The Medtronic device that was also implanted with the leads in the lower back features learned technology - essentially talking to the leads and understanding over time when Gene Smith is sitting or standing, making him as comfortable as possible no matter what position he takes.

Walker says there is no age limit on the surgery. To be eligible for it, patients must have some sort of chronic pain in their back, legs or arms.

Copyright 2013 FOX Carolina (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

Powered by WorldNow
Fox Carolina
Powered by WorldNow CNN
All content © 2014, WHNS; Greenville, SC. (A Meredith Corporation Station) and WorldNow. All Rights Reserved.
For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.