Plumber finds pain relief with shock wave therapy

Plumber finds pain relief with shock wave therapy

For Betty Pierce, who owns and operates a plumbing business with her husband Rod, little aches and pains are something one works through to get the job done.

But on that day in December 2020, the 57-year-old Pocatello resident experienced pain that stayed with her for more than a year.

“We were putting in the plumbing in a new house construction and I was on a ladder,” she said. “I turned and fell about 4 feet, landing on my side. It kind of hurt, but I got up and kept working. A couple of days later, I started to feel excruciating pain in my back, just below the shoulder blade.”

Many sleepless nights

Betty found it very difficult to lie comfortably in bed. “The pain got so intense that I just wanted to scream,” she said. “I would get up and walk around, thinking that moving might help, but it didn’t. The only way I could get comfortable was by kneeling on the floor and laying my arms on the couch. With my arms supported, it kind of helped ease the pain, just a little. On many nights, I ended up falling asleep on my knees.”

She also tried a number of medicines to deal with pain, including over-the-counter pain medications, hot and cold packs and muscle relaxers. Her husband would often rub oil on her back in the area of the pain.

Betty’s daughter used a TENS (transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation) unit that sends a mild electrical current from a small, battery-operated device to leads connected to pads stuck on her back. These electrical impulses can reduce the pain signals going to the patient’s spinal cord and brain, which may help relieve pain and relax muscles.

When none of these solutions failed to give her much relief, Betty sought information from her chiropractor and other healthcare providers. Unfortunately, the many sleepless nights and a stark decrease in her daily activities continued for more than a year.

“Frustrated, I had kind of given up on the doctors. Isn’t there somebody who can help me, somebody who is going to listen?”

A visit with Dr. Joseph

Then just before Christmas, Betty and her husband were shopping when they saw one of their plumbing customers who is also a chiropractor. “He said to me, ‘Betty, whenever I have a patient in a lot of pain and I can’t figure it out, I send them to Dr. Anthony Joseph.’”

After waiting a few weeks for a new patient appointment, the day finally arrived for her meeting with Dr. Anthony Joseph, an orthopedics and sports medicine specialist with Portneuf Medical Group – OrthoIdaho.

“When I arrived for the appointment, he walked into the examination room and sat down,” Betty explained. “I talked about everything and he just listened. He listened to me explain all the details of my injury, the sleepless nights and the excruciating pain that I was in. I didn’t have that with any of the other doctors,” she said.

Dr. Joseph focused immediately on what was causing Betty’s pain, proposing either a topical procedure involving needles or a natural treatment involving shock waves. Betty chose the latter.

Extracorporeal shock wave therapy

Known as extracorporeal (outside the body) shock wave therapy, the treatment involves the delivery of small amounts of shock waves to injured tissue to reduce pain, break up scar tissue and promote blood flow and healing.

“It was suspected that Betty had injured a facet joint – the joint in which a rib connects to the spine,” says Logan Cano, a research assistant at Portneuf Medical Group – OrthoIdaho who often assists Dr. Joseph with clinical patients. “Even though multiple radiologic exams were performed, the exams did not explain the patient's true cause of pain."

Logan went on to explain the device. “One component of the shock wave device creates pressure waves that break up scar tissue,” said Logan. “Another component suppresses pain receptors, stimulates new blood flow, causes the release of growth factors and decreases inflammatory mediators. The final component is used to massage the muscles near the area of treatment."

The use of all 3 components of the shock wave therapy device started to ease the pain in Betty’s back. She returned for a treatment every 3 to 4 days, but eventually the pain lessened so she could go a week in between treatments, and then 2-3 weeks.

Finally, by the end of April 2022, she went in for another shock wave therapy treatment and hasn’t had to return since then.

“Over the course of several shock wave treatments, I was able to get relief from my pain. I have been able to return to work and my normal daily activities. The shock wave treatment was an incredible blessing to my life.”

With the pain gone, Betty looks forward to spending more time with her 4 children and 3 grandchildren. She also has high praise for Dr. Joseph, Logan and the staff at Portneuf Medical Group – OrthoIdaho.

“Dr. Joseph sincerely cared about me and made a great effort to get me out of pain. Honestly, I wish I would have found him months ago!”

To make an appointment with one of our physicians, visit our website or give us a call at (208) 233-2100.