Forty-six-year-old Amy Horwitz is a bigger-than-life, vivacious, “mover and shaker”. So when complications from a 2010 neck surgery left her immobilized and bedridden, her whole life was turned upside down. She was no longer the care-free, independent woman she used to be. Not only did Amy become dependent on a cane or walker to get around, but her husband had to quit his job to stay home and care for her.
She knew it was time to seek professional help to figure out the source of her never-ending chronic pain. “I felt like I had a boa constrictor going around my legs. I felt pain everywhere from my head to my toes,” Amy explains. “My pain was literally off the charts.”
The former pharma tech is handed scripts for painkillers
Desperate for relief, Amy visited several highly regarded medical specialists, including an orthopedist and a neurosurgeon. But instead of receiving a diagnosis, she was told that her pain was psychogenic (in the mind) and she received a myriad of prescriptions for antidepressants, muscle relaxants and strong narcotics, including the highly addictive Oxycotin. As a former pharmaceutical tech, Amy was well aware of the debilitating side effects of these narcotics, some of which she had experienced firsthand. “I wanted relief─but did not want to live my life dependent on expensive and dangerous pain medications,” says Amy.
Amy and her husband face the source of her chronic pain–head-on
Disappointed but not defeated, Amy took matters into her own hands. With the help of her devoted husband, they conducted extensive research of her symptoms on the Internet and agreed in their mutual self-diagnosis of reflex sympathetic dystrophy (RSD). She immediately made an appointment with a top RSD specialist at John Hopkins Blaustein Pain Treatment Center. After hearing of Amy’s desire for a drug-free solution to her chronic pain, her doctor recommended a newer treatment for pain that tricks the brain’s pain signal and is showing great results for RSD sufferers–Calmare Therapy.
Calmare uses a biophysical (using physical methods to treat biological problems) rather than a biochemical (drugs) approach to pain management. It is a pain-free, non-invasive treatment for nerve pain that uses electrodes placed on the skin to deliver a ‘no-pain’ message directly to the nerve. After Amy’s online research turned up numerous success stories from RSD patients treated with Calmare Therapy, she was finally feeling hopeful. She left her home in Maryland and headed to the Rutherford Allied Medical Group in NJ to meet Dr. Cooney, the man with the machine that she hoped would give her back her life.
When Amy first arrived at Dr. Cooney’s office on May 20, 2013, her pain was a 10 / 10 on the Pain Scale. After just one 45-minute Calmare treatment, she started to feel immediate relief. After nine more sessions, one per day, her pain level dropped to 2 / 10. “The swelling on my hands had gone down and the pain in my legs had significantly improved. I am finally able to move on my own. I can honestly say I feel like myself again for the first time in years,” says Amy. She is still amazed by the fact that she can grab a glass and put ice in it herself. “It is an incredible feat for me,” laughs Amy.
She is very grateful to Dr. Cooney for making it possible. “I can’t believe how lucky I was to have met him,” she says. “He is the nicest doctor I have ever known– caring, considerate, thoughtful, great bedside manner–and most of all–a great heart. I don’t know what I would have done without him.”
Amy starts on her own mission to help others with RSD
While Amy is not completely pain-free, she says she can finally see “the light at the end of the tunnel.” Now she wants other people suffering from chronic pain to see that light as well. She has already referred several patients from her RSD support group to Calmare Therapy and she’s planning to call as many media outlets as she can in Maryland to tell them about this side-effect-free treatment for many kinds of chronic pain.
Amy does not know what her future will bring. She hopes to try yoga and ride a rollercoaster again. But one thing she knows for sure is that, “I’m moving and I’m not stopping ever again.”