Relief from chronic back pain

Life & Health

Many of us have experienced back pain at some point in our lives. For one Green Bay man, though, that pain was robbing him of his quality of life.  That is, until he met the pain management team at Aurora BayCare Medical Center.

“I’d miss out on things,” explains Green Bay’s John Mortonson.  “I remember we went to the Grand Canyon and I was there, but when my family wanted to go hiking and things I just kind of had to bow out.”

Mortonson had had enough.

“I tried drugs, acupuncture, massage therapy, chiropractor, heat…,” Mortonson says.

After years of living with debilitating chronic back pain …

“…those spasms would last 4 or 5 days,” he describes, “and I wouldn’t be able to work during those times.”

John wanted his life back

“It was basically out of desperation,” Mortonson says.  “You’re actually trying to reclaim your life.”

That’s when John found Dr. Thomas Wilkins and the musculoskeletal team at Aurora BayCare Medical Center.

“Certainly his back was a major component in quality of life and really not allowing him to function the way he wanted to function,” says Dr. Wilkins

Dr. Wilkins used a procedure called Radiofrequency Ablation, or RFA, which isolates the specific pain nerves at the source and uses heat to disable them.

 “It’s like pulling a plug from a socket,” he explains. “You basically disconnect the transmission from the joint that’s painful, to the brain that interprets the pain.”

Without the  pain, patients can move again.

“So it frees the person up to function because, in most cases, it’s the pain that prevents proper functioning from happening,” Dr. Wilkins says.

After years of paralyzing pain, Mortonson finally found some relief.

“It definitely works,” he says. “It was a game changer for me.”

Dr. Wilkins says eventually those pain nerves will grow back, but RFA can be performed more than once.

“I’ve had it done about five times total,” Mortonson says.

 “It can also be done for the neck, it can be done for knees, hips, shoulder joints as well,” Dr. Wilkins says.

For Mortonson, RFA has given him a new lease on life.

“We enjoy biking, hiking, going places and travelling,” Mortonson explains, adding what he calls the best part of all, “…even just to pick up my grandchildren.”

Dr. Wilkins says anyone with chronic back pain, who you may often notice hunched over, would be a good candidate for Radiofrequency Ablation.

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