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A Patient’s History Of Living In Pain And How FHW Changed All That

Treating life-altering pain with long-term solutions isn’t a mythical dream, it’s what we do here at Family Health West (FHW). In our FHW Pain Specialist clinic, we have two excellent Board Certified Anesthesiologists who are fellowship-trained in interventional pain. Doctors David Saldivar and Kyle Christopherson’s approach to treating pain is whole health with kindness and compassion. It’s a well-rounded approach to getting you back to living your best life. 

FHW Pain Specialist Clinic patient, Al, watering a tree in his backyard. Something he previously couldn’t do because of severe pain.

Our culture at Family Health West Pain Specialist Clinic starts with understanding every pain patient is unique. We offer a variety of treatments for many common conditions such as back pain, neck pain, hip pain, and knee pain as well as uncommon conditions such as migraines, facial pain, joint pain, neuropathy, and Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS). Whatever it may be our board-certified physicians have the ability to treat patients from head to toe. 

September was Chronic Pain Awareness Month and the FHW Pain Specialist clinic treated over 235 patients experiencing debilitating chronic pain. Of those recent patients, one stands out and we’d love to share a bit of his story.

Meet Al D., we are using only Al’s first name, but be assured, he’s a real patient (who signed a real media release!). Al lives in Loma and enjoys all the beauty Western Colorado has to offer.

Al consistently reports he had low back pain, and leg and feet neuropathy – a numbness, tingling, sharp pain experience, for as long as he can remember. After about 30 years of trying to tackle and live with this ongoing frustration he said, he was desperate to find answers and relief.

Al’s first lower back surgery was in 2005, a second surgery was in 2007, and a third surgery was in 2016. The pain ultimately decreased in his back after each surgery, but the burning pain in his legs and feet worsened. In 2022, Al began exploring other pain-relieving options. He said he tried several different interventions with little to no relief, certainly no long-term relief.

Al met with yet another surgeon in early 2023, and in April underwent a final three-level lumbar fusion. He said, finally he had good relief in his lower back, but he still couldn’t understand why 60-80 times a day it felt like a wasp was stinging his legs and feet. Al was narcotic dependent, taking nearly 23 pills a day. He was unable to sleep at night due to the shooting pains and often opted out of leaving his own home unless he absolutely had to. He described his quality of life at that time as poor.

Al heard about the clinic at Family Health West offering alternatives to managing chronic pain without narcotics. He attended a community event in May 2023, with the support and encouragement of his wife. There, he met both Dr. Christopherson and Dr. Saldivar and felt inspired by their knowledge, compassion, and open discussion. He booked an appointment with Dr. Christopherson for the following week.

Initially, Al had low expectations based on his past experiences with pain management. He said, “I did not have high hopes going in, as everything in the past had not helped.”

Al was one of the thousands of patients we would routinely see for chronic pain, said Kaley Velasquez, FHW Pain Specialist clinical nurse manager. Since May, Al attests to getting his life back with a small device called a spinal cord stimulator.

He says, “I couldn’t go outside to water my trees and garden without immediate extreme pain and the worry that I would fall. I often kept a lawn chair close to me, just in case. I missed family reunions, holidays, and most recently, my grandson’s birth because I couldn’t ride in a car for more than 30 minutes, and I cringed at even the idea of flying in an airplane.”

Today, Al said, his pain is 100% relieved and he couldn’t be more thankful for the entire team at FHW.

“Last weekend we strolled the local fall festival shopping and listening to music. In the past I would of never entertained the idea of even riding in the car to town,” Al said with a smile.

And, the most exciting part of all – Al just booked a flight to North Dakota for the spring of 2024, to attend a family reunion event, and plans on taking backup paragliding.

We hope Al gets to fulfill all his dreams, checking off the boxes on his bucket list, and soaking up all the moments of living the life of a pain-free and narcotic-free man. In the FHW Pain Specialist clinic, our goal of managing pain without prescription drugs is to provide patients with a better quality of life, get them back to work, get them back to doing the things in life they enjoy, and remove anxiety, depression, and other secondary effects that inject into life when a person is living with chronic pain.

Whether you’ve seen us in the past as a previous patient or would like to become a new patient, please reach out today, and let’s work together on your healing, because together we flourish.
Don’t wait and remain in pain, call the FHW Pain Specialist clinic today at (970) 858-2239 or visit https://fhw.org/services/pain-specialists/, for more information.

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