(10/30/12) - According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there have been two more deaths and four more cases of fungal meningitis, linked to contaminated steroid shots, right here in Michigan. That brings the totals in our state to 93 cases and seven deaths. Of the 19 states affected, Michigan has, by far, the highest number of cases.
Every day, thousands of people have steroid injections with one mission: fighting pain. Whether it is caused by an injury or illness, pain can often be life altering. A lot of chronic pain sufferers will try anything- ANYTHING- to feel normal again.
Steroid injections have been a welcome substitute for potentially addictive pain drugs. But, since the outbreak linked to injections from a Massachusetts compounding pharmacy, people are looking for alternatives. That is where a Michigan company, called BlastPain comes in.
They've got a laser. No surgery. No drugs. And, some patients, who had all but given up hope, say it is working.
Sal Ponzio was at his wit's end. "I prayed and prayed and I would have tried just about anything to get rid of pain, and that's when I heard an advertisement for this."
"This" is a laser. It doesn't cut. It doesn't burn. It heals.
Laserologist, Lisa Shapiro demonstrates on Sal. "This is all we do, is run the laser across the skin. He feels just a little bit of warmth."
"Just feels as if exactly what it looks like somebody rubbing your back," Sal confirms.
The FDA approved laser, works by delivering light energy to cells, helping them repair themselves by stimulating the development of what are called Fibroblasts.
"Fibroblast is the key enzyme in collagen. Collagen is the most essential protein in our body that keeps our bodies together actually and helps with muscle and tissue repair and rejuvenation," explains BlastPain chief laserologist, Jeff Morton.
Sal, who has suffered chronic back pain for almost 40 years- as well as knee pain and a neuroma in his foot- says he noticed an affect after the first visit. "Something happened. I could feel a little improvement, nothing dramatic, but I could tell that it had affected the area that was worked on in a positive way. A little relief, it lasted until the next day."
After about seven visits, Sal says the effect was lasting. "Now I've asked to stop working on my back and concentrated on the neuroma in my foot."
He says that is also working, allowing him to walk comfortably for the first time in years. Another big benefit from the laser - he does not have take over 120 Vicodin a month.
It has changed his life. "It's depressing, you are laying around all day. You don't feel like doing anything, but you want to do something. It is terrible, it's a terrible state to be in."
For David Miros, who was also taking a lot of pain medication, the future was about to take an even more frightening turn. "My most recent prognosis by one of my doctors, was to amputate my right foot."
After three surgeries and countless doctors in the five years since his foot was crushed in a car accident, David took a chance on the laser. "For the first time in 5 years, I've noticed a significant change in my pain level. Most importantly, it's improved my quality of life. Probably most important, it gives me hope that if I continue this treatment, one day I can possibly be pain free."
David's laserologist, John Wharton - who was the trainer for the Detroit Red Wings through three Stanley Cup wins - was actually a patient, who became sold on the laser himself.
"Through the years I've worked with every single pain relief modality you can imagine and none of them have the results this one does," John says.
Most patients start with two to three 15 to 20 minute visits a week for the three weeks, but the number of treatments needed varies from patient to patient.
"Everybody's DNA is different, " explains Jeff Morton. "I could have five patients with the exact same condition and I am going to have five different outcomes. "
"I see results everyday of people getting a better quality of life, not just having their pain decreased or limiting it, but just improving their quality of life."
The laser treatments are not covered by insurance companies yet. The treatments run between $50 and $75 each, depending on what you have worked on. There are also treatment packages. BlastPain has locations in Troy and Farmington Hills. For more information, visit http://www.blastpain.com/index.html. You can also call 248-879-1100 in Troy, or 248-855-5557 in Farmington Hills.
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