SIOUX FALLS, SD (KELO) – A veteran of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq attributes medical intervention that restored him to health after years of chronic back pain. He tells his story of how a spinal cord stimulator changed his life.
Justin Minyard was serving in the US Army stationed in Washington DC when terrorists attacked the Pentagon on September 11th. Minyard was one of the first responders who went through the rubble looking for victims.
“And during the day and days, part of the building collapsed on me trying to reach a trapped woman and broke my spine,” Minyard said.
Minyard would suffer more back injuries on missions in Afghanistan and Iraq. He underwent half a dozen surgeries and became addicted to prescription pain medication.
“So I went from the pain control every other minute thought to the pain medication every day, too, it’s like having two monkeys on your back,” Minyard said.
But in 2009, Minyard underwent spinal cord stimulation, a procedure where doctors insert a wire through the spinal cord and a battery into the lower back. A remote control allows the patient to send an electrical signal through their spine that blocks the pain.
“It doesn’t take away the pain, it just makes my brain think I feel like a tingling sensation,” Minyard said.
Doctors in Sioux Falls say the technology behind the procedure is advancing rapidly and shows great promise for certain patients in managing their chronic pain.
“Many of these patients have had previous back surgery, but sometimes we have patients who are not good candidates for surgery, perhaps because of their age or other medical comorbidities, and we can use this therapy as an alternative to surgery,” said Dr. James Brunz from the Orthopedic Institute.
Minyard had to retire early because of his back pain. But he credits the procedure for relieving the pain and breaking his addiction.
“I don’t take anything stronger than Advil and I have my life back,” said Minyard.
Minyard talks about his spinal cord stimulation therapy during a lunch hosted by the Orthopedic Institute in Sioux Falls next week.