Zach’s Chronic Pain Story

Zach’s Chronic Pain Story

On his second tour of duty in Iraq in 2005, Staff Sgt. Zach kicked in a basement door during a house raid in downtown Baghdad—and suddenly his whole life changed. Wearing more than 100 pounds of equipment, Zach was carried by his momentum to the bottom of a stairwell 10 feet below. He shattered two discs in his lower back. After the raid, Zach realized he could not lift his legs to get back inside his Humvee.

“The pain was excruciating,” says Zach. “It felt like standing on a transformer while bolts of lightning were shooting through my back and legs.” Back in the U.S., Zach underwent two back surgeries that failed to help him. He tried physical therapy, visited a chiropractor, and took numerous narcotics to dull the pain. “Nothing worked,” continues Zach. “I felt like a zombie, and I was in constant pain. For 60 days, I couldn’t even move.”

When a fellow soldier told him about neurostimulation, Zach started to research the therapy online. He learned that while neurostimulation is not a cure for what is causing the pain, it has helped thousands of chronic pain suffers around the world reduce their pain and return to normal activities.

Interested, Zach approached his doctor about neurostimulation therapy. His doctor agreed he was a good candidate and reviewed with him the possible benefits and risks. (Risks associated with the procedure and/or use of a neurostimulation system include infection, swelling, bruising, undesirable changes in stimulation, and the loss of strength or use in an affected limb or muscle group (e.g., paralysis). For a complete list of possible complications associated with neurostimulation, refer to this important safety information.)

Zach was implanted with a St. Jude Medical™ neurostimulator. He felt positive results almost immediately. “It was like a miracle; I felt 80-percent pain relief,” exclaims Zach. “I wasn’t grumpy all the time. My friends noticed I was a completely different person.”

Today, Zach is based at the Wounded Warrior Battalion in North Carolina, where he is currently working at Womack Army Medical Center. “Due to the pain relief, I’m much better socially,” says Zach. “I’ve started jogging for the first time in four years. I’m swimming again. I recently went deep sea fishing.”

Recognized for his efforts during the war, Zach is proud to have received a Bronze Star Medal and an Army Commendation Medal with Valor; he also has two Purple Hearts pending. 

Consult your doctor to discuss the risks and benefits of neurostimulation and determine if this therapy is right for you. The story above explains the experiences of an individual who has received a neurostimulation system to manage chronic pain of the trunk and/or limbs. These results with neurostimulation are specific to this individual. While most patients experience at least some reduction in pain, the amount of pain relief that individuals experience varies. The surgical placement and use of a neurostimulation system pose risks, the occurrence of which also varies by individual.