After years of suffering from headaches, I decided to try occipital nerve stimulation to control my pain. This blog is to document my process to try to help educate others about the process and results.
I've had my stimulator for a year and a half now, and I find that as time goes on, I use it less and less. When I initially got it, I had it on all the time. Now I only turn it on when I need it. My surgeon's head nurse told me that this is pretty common, and in fact some people get to the point where they no longer need the stimulator. She said they removed a woman's this fall because she no longer used it! I still find it hard to imagine getting to that point, but the idea that it is possible is so uplifting. Now, I have zero medical background, but I'll try to explain it the way the nurse explained it to me.
She said when people have chronic pain, the nerves get used to firing at a certain location. The more they do this, the more that becomes almost like a normal process for your body. Part of breaking the pain cycle is to block that "easy" path that your nerves have gotten used to. The stimulator helps to disrupt this pain path and make your nerves sort of re-circuit. If there is a bigger problem causing the pain, your body may find new paths to use. However, if the pain is partially caused by nerves that are damaged from so much firing, the stimulator may help to give them a break and allow them to heal (yes, nerves can/do regenerate). I'm sure it's all much more complicated than that, but that was a basic explanation that I got that I thought was worth sharing.
I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday season. Best wishes to all for a pain-free (okay, let's not get greedy...pain-reduced) New Year.