One hundred million people suffer from chronic pain, and some patients only get relief through a stimulator implant, but once the device is in place, patients cannot get MRI screenings.
Now, researchers at The Ohio State University are one of the first in the nation to implant an MRI safe spinal cord stimulator. One patient said he's got a new pep in his step thanks to the new device.
Simple trips to the mailbox and walking the dog were almost unbearable for John Garvin.
"A burning pain is probably the worst type of pain you could have," said John Garvin.
Garvin has lived with the pain for more than 20 years. It started in his feet and traveled to his legs.
"I remember his feet sticking out of the sheets, and if I happened to accidentally hit his toes, he would just yell really loud,” said his wife, Sherry Garvin.
The pain was due to peripheral neuropathy. Garvin shuffled as he walked and quickly wore out his shoe soles. Researchers at The Ohio State University recommended the SureScan MRI neurostimulation system because Garvin would need to continue MRI scans.
"It blocks the impulses going through the spinal cord to the brain," said Dr. Milind Deogaonkar, neurologist, The Ohio State University, Wexner Medical Center.
The device has a protective coating on the metal and prevents tissue burn. In the past, patients with stimulator implants could not have MRI screenings.
"It kind of absorbs the heat, which generates around the contacts, and spreads it over the length of the lead," Deogaonkar said.
It's allowing doctors to better treat patients.
"I feel a lot better," Garvin said.
"He sleeps with his feet under the covers," his wife said.
Experts said the device will now give millions of patients like Garvin a chance to walk through life with a little less pain.
It is estimated worldwide 60 million MRI procedures are performed each year. The stimulator will give thousands of people the opportunity to control their pain, while monitoring other health problems.