CHARLOTTE, NC (FOX 46) - Millions of Americans suffer from chronic pain every year, struggling daily to find the right combination of medication just to live a normal life.
Now there is a new neurostimulation device is being used by three doctors across North Carolina, including one right here in the Charlotte area. Doctors say it has a more than 75% success rate and more local patients are being recommended to use the device.
"I always have pain in my side and it hurts just sitting, it hurts just laying down," said Bill Ziegenfus.
For Ziegenfus even the simplest task, like taking a walk, forces him to load up on prescription pain medication and over the counter drugs.
"So and this I will take 600 to 800 milligrams per day," said Ziegenfus.
But the medication that fills his cupboards are only a band-aid for the overall problem.
"There are things that impede me being with my family and that sorta stuff, so I would like to get rid of it or at least calm it down," said Ziegenfus.
After more than five years, Ziegenfus had enough of the bulk bottles of medication in his house. In hopes of finally finding a cure for his pain, he decided to visit Southeast Pain care in Huntersville and Dr.Troy Ginergirch.
Dr. Ginergirch is the only doctor in the Charlotte area that uses the all new neurostimulation device available in North Carolina, called the St. Jude Medical Axium.
"I have been to 2 or 3 different guys to deal with pain and this is the first one to come up with this. He said you would be a good candidate for it," said Ziegenfus.
The small device is implanted in the body, blocking pain signals before they enter the spinal cord and make their way to the brain.
"They allow us to treat pain and minimize opioids and in some cases eliminate cases altogether. It's another tool in our arsenal," said Ginergirch.
Shelton Lee knows the experience first hand. He had the gadget implanted two months ago.
"I was hoping that it delivered exactly what the brochure said exactly what it would do and it did that and more," said Lee.
Lee uses a remote control to manage the strength of the electronic signals. He's gone from using steroids and pain killers, to no medication at all.
"Putting on my socks was painful. I am able to do those little things that used to cause me a lot of pain," said Lee.
It's a success story, patients like Bill Ziegenfus are still waiting for.
"I hope that it works and I hope I can do the implant and it helps me out moving so I am very, very excited," said Ziegenfus.
Bill Ziegenfus will have a one week trial run with the machine placed outside his body, before undergoing the actual surgery. Doctors say the overall procedure isn't invasive and most people don't realize someone is wearing the device. There is a small battery that needs to be replaced with a follow-up surgery. Doctors say that happens about every five years or so.
For more information on the surgery, click here.