Chronic Pain Relief Without Drugs


50 million Americans have chronic pain.

About 20 million of them experience pain severe enough that it limits life or work activities.

After falling from a three story building, a local man knows all too well how much chronic pain can impact everyday life. 

“I thank God I didn’t land on my back. I imagine, I blacked out, but I imagine I landed with my right foot back because I was kind of in that backwards motion,” Sheku Bannister said. 

In 2015 Bannister was working construction when he fell from a three story building, severely injuring his right foot and ankle. 

In addition to pins and plates in his foot, he walked away with chronic pain. 

“I started noticing this burning sensation. Sort of like a… stabbing, of maybe glass or something sharp,” Bannister said. 

Bannister had the pins and plates removed, but the pain remained.

Doctors referred him to Dr. James Brunz, the first doctor in South Dakota to offer Abbott’s dorsal root ganlion stimulation, or DRG stimulation.

“We can direct the stimulation to a specific nerve. So we can target a foot, an ankle, a knee, whereas the traditional stimulators, you had to stimulate the entire leg,” Brunz said. 

Brunz and Bannister met at a time where Bannister felt hopeless, having reservations about undergoing another surgery. 

But the opportunity to get his life back surpassed his reservations. 

“Growing up in you know a really rough area of California and just seeing family members addicted to drugs and they’d be just shaky and falling asleep and so that haunted me,” Bannister said. 

Bannister was given a trial stimulator and shortly after received surgery for a DRG implant. 

Before the implant is placed trial stimulators are used to be sure this treatment works for the patients pain. 

“Even putting boots on is a success. Well I’ll start before that, putting socks on is a success cause it was almost about six months where I could only where flip flops just cause I couldn’t tolerate it,” Bannister said. 

Bannister is welcoming a new addition to his family this week, and thanks to this treatment he’s looking forward to life with his new son without the pain. 

“Even holding my baby or even trying to get up to go if the baby is crying to grab the baby would’ve been close to impossible,” Bannister said. 

“It was a journey and we were just fortunate that we had this therapy available to offer to him,” Brunz said. 

A journey that gave him his life back. 

“I’m back to being Sheku, you know I’m a positive person. I like to smile,” Bannister said. 

This treatment is currently only approved in the U.S. for pain stemming from the waist down.

For more information, click here.

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