FAIRFIELD — Michael McBride’s came in 2000, the result of a car accident.
Linda Banks fell at work in 1992, making her way into the group of the estimated 100 million Americans who live with chronic pain. McBride is a fellow member.
Their lives have dramatically changed as a result of living with chronic pain.
“It has disabled me,” said McBride, a Fairfield resident. “I can stand up for maybe an hour. Then, I lose complete feeling in one leg.”
On a recent trip to Reno, a three-hour drive, he had to stop five times due to the pain. He refused to give in and continued the trek.
McBride, 58, doesn’t want to use a cane or crutch.
Life goes on, even when it throws you a curveball, he said.
“I won’t let this stop me from being a human,” he said.
Vacaville resident Banks, 75, pictured traveling in her golden years. That’s out of the question.
“I enjoyed dancing,” she said. “That was cut off way too early. Now, I don’t go out. I go to the movies once and awhile. I sit in the aisle seat. If I sit too long, I have to be able to stand up.”
Arthritis has also set in, which makes it worse, Banks said.
She’s had four surgeries, the last one about 15 years ago. Her back is totally fused, she said.
McBride has permanent pins in both feet, having eight surgeries on them. He’s also had a “multitude of injections” in his back area for his compressed discs.
McBride and Banks also seek pain relief with water exercises.
Both use pain medication for relief. They dream of living a vibrant life without pharmaceutical intervention. Toward that goal, Banks and McBride work with Dr. Eric Grigsby and his staff at the Napa Pain Institute.
One in 5 Americans will deal with pain in their lifetime, Grigsby said. One in 3 of them will have it affect their quality of life. Ten percent will live with a severe variant of pain, such as Banks and McBride.
Doctors have yet to pinpoint why 1 in 10 people with pain will require a lot of medical attention, Grigsby said. A number of factors such as obesity, chemicals in food, and a lack of physical activity may be involved, he said.
“It’s a big public health dilemma that requires a lot of resources,” Grigsby said of chronic pain management.
The Napa Pain Institute is participating in an investigational study of a spinal cord stimulation system, called the Axium Neurostimulator System, that targets the dorsal root ganglion.
That branch of the spinal cord that is believed to play a critical role in the development and maintenance of chronic pain as it processes pain signals as they travel to the brain. Stimulating the dorsal root ganglion interrupts pain signals before they get to the brain.
With more than 20,000 patients a year coming through his doors, Grigsby wanted alternatives to pain medicine. About five years ago, he came in contact with spinal modulation products, which are in an early stage of development, he said.
McBride and Banks did not qualify for the study.
Banks does have a spinal cord stimulator that Grigsby implanted. The difference between the two systems is that the Axium’s leads can be placed closer to the target, treating pain in areas that have been hard to reach, such as the lower leg and foot.
Grigsby said he thinks neurostimulation is one of the answers to chronic pain management.
“We have done a great job as a field for chronic pain,” he said.
It’s what happens to those medications that makes the difference. Some go from the medicine cabinet into recreational use.
“We can’t go back to where people in need can’t get good relief,” he said. “Sometimes people feel hopeless. This is a real opportunity to help.”
Banks and McBride said it’s easy to get behind pain relief that doesn’t require prescription medications.
“I only take it because I have to,” Banks said. “Sometimes I just deal with the pain. One day I would love not to be taking it.”
She relies on her faith in God to carry her through the toughest times, she said.
“Pain medicines can only do so much,” McBride said. “I want to get rid of the narcotics and get back to a normal life.”
To see if you qualify for the study being done at the Napa Pain Institute, visit www.accuratestudy.com.
Reach Amy Maginnis-Honey at 427-6957 or [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/amaginnisdr.