Implant Helps Retired Soldier Deal With Pain

Chester Jones of Killeen, age 46, served for 24 years in the Army and suffers from frequent pain. Serving three tours in Iraq and other deployments around the world, Chester carried packs weighing 35 pounds and more while walking up to 20 miles a day. 

The stress caused Chester to have two herniated discs and degenerative disc disease, otherwise known as “military back.”

Chester endured the pain by taking prescribed opioids several times a day in order to remain functional. Though Chester was never addicted to opioids, many veterans are susceptible to addiction, as vets are 10 times more likely than average Americans to abuse opioids.

In June, Chester chose an alternative treatment which came in the form of a spinal cord simulator; a small implant about the size of a matchbook placed along his spinal column.

Chester’s physician, Dr. Mark Malone who in turn had a spinal cord stimulator implanted in his back, called the treatment revolutionary. The stimulator transmits waveforms that are similar to waveforms created by nerves in order to talk to the brain. By mimicking the signal that nerves send to the brain, the stimulator blocks the pain signals. 

Malone estimates that in his immediate area, about 500 patients have had a stimulator implanted with a 90 percent to 100 percent cure rate.