Meet Betsy Banks. Imagine having low back pain so severe it stops you from pursuing your chosen career. For Betsy Banks, now 51, that was her unfortunate reality.
In 1981, Betsy was in a serious automobile accident that left her with intense low back pain for more than two decades. At the time of her accident, Betsy was just months away from earning a Bachelor’s degree in nursing, but she was told that her pain was not compatible with the demands of the profession. Reluctantly, she shifted gears, becoming first a medical editor, then a science and health textbook writer. Despite her chronic pain, Betsy married and had two children. As the years passed, her pain magnified, and she slowly became less physically active. This resulted in substantial weight gain.
“The biggest roadblock,” she says, “was finding a doctor to take my pain seriously. My broken bones had mended, but the pain persisted, and was growing worse. My doctors didn’t have the tools to assess what was going on. Rather than say, ‘I don’t know why you’re in pain,’ I heard a lot of, ‘There’s nothing wrong.’”
To cope with the pain, Betsy relied on basic comfort measures such ice and heat, modifying her activity level, and rest. She’s allergic to NSAIDS and couldn’t rely on over-the-counter drugs like Advil. By 2005, Betsy’s pain had increased so dramatically that she made a last-ditch effort to get relief. She saw a new primary care physician (PCP) who listened to her and like the doctors she saw before him, he didn’t know exactly what was wrong, but unlike them, he was willing to help.
Betsy left her PCP’s office that day with a referral to Dr. James Wilson of Interventional Pain Specialists in Naperville, Illinois. Dr. Wilson pinpointed Betsy’s chronic low back pain as sacroiliac joint (SIJ) pain. Initially, she was treated with sacroiliac joint injections and pain medication. While these measures relieved her pain in the short term, they didn’t fully alleviate her symptoms. Because the SIJ injections offered the best relief, Dr. Wilson thought Betsy would be a good candidate for the SInergy Cooled Radiofrequency (RF) System, a minimally-invasive, non-pharmacological treatment option for those suffering from sacroiliac joint (SIJ) pain.
Betsy noticed an immediate difference after her first treatment with the Cooled RF System. “It was life-changing,” Betsy says. “When you’ve lived with chronic pain for decades, and suddenly it’s gone--it’s unbelievable! Everything changed! Suddenly, I was able to do things I hadn’t done in years. I could walk for miles and work out at the YMCA—without pain. I lost weight I’d gained as I’d become more sedentary over the years—I now weigh about 100 pounds less than I did in 2008. Best of all, I no longer feel as though life is on hold for some arbitrary time when I might ‘feel better.’ I already feel better!”
Article originally published by Kimberly-Clark, now Halyard Health, in Real Stories, Sept. 2013