If you’re a pain sufferer, you’ve likely wondered about what else exists that could relieve your pain. You may have tried different pain medications, treatments, surgeries and homeopathic approaches. At some point, participating in a drug or treatment trial may have crossed your mind. Want to know what trials are really like? Here are the stories – and outcomes – of three pain sufferers who participated in clinical trials research.
Trial patient #1: B. Compton
Compton’s whole life had revolved around her pain. Unable to get out much or walk for very long, she felt like she had tried just about everything for relief – therapy, back fusions and implant, surgeries…and nothing had worked. Her quality of life was suffering.
Last year, her doctor suggested she participate in a trial for a new type of spinal cord stimulator. Her history made her a good candidate. Having been on strong pain medications that she didn’t want to continue, Compton decided to take part in the eight-week study.
Compton went into the study optimistic. Her previous implant had not been very effective, but the high frequency implant of the trial gave her hope. For three weeks of the trial, she continued her current pain treatment plan. For the next week, she had no pain treatment. Finally, the high frequency stimulator was surgically implanted. The results were beyond her expectations. The new stimulator allowed her to walk without a cane the day it was installed.
“By the time I got home, I was not in much pain at all. By that night, I was amazed that I had hardly any pain! And it’s been like that since. I still have some pain occasionally, but nothing like before. My pain is truly 85-90% better. It’s unreal!” said Compton.
Compton has encouraged others to participate in clinical trial research, sharing her experience and the amazing results. While there are rough parts of the trial – particularly when the participant is not getting an effective pain treatment or not treatment at all – she feels the process is worth the effort.
“My quality of life has really improved. I’m not out dancing yet, but a friend of mine at church keeps asking!”
Trial patient #2: S. Andrews
Andrews went into her clinical trial last year with the advantage of having been a part of one before. While she had discovered her first trial on her own, she was contacted directly to participate in her second trial. Andrews, a pain clinic patient, was already enthusiastic about the possibilities of clinical trials research.
“I had a really good experience with my first trial. The particular drug being tested in the second trial was interesting to me because it was non-narcotic and less addictive, “ stated Andrews. Like many pain patients, she had concerns about the addictive nature of heavy-duty pain medications.
Andrews signed up for the 11-month trial with hopes that the study would be beneficial to a variety of people with chronic pain – and that she could be a part of the process for getting FDA approval. The Buprenorphine buccal soluble is a drug that dissolves inside the mouth – making it less attractive for street drug users, where abuse of pain medications is a significant problem in the U.S.
“I was completely satisfied with the trial,” shared Andrews. “I had no adverse reactions, and by the end of the trial, when I had ramped up to the max dosage, I had the most relief I’ve ever had on any pain regime.”
Today, Andrews is waiting on FDA approval so that she can begin regular use of the medication that provided her with such relief. She said that being a part of the trial helped her feel like she was ‘standing up for the cause’. In her experience, the trial nurses, physicians and administrators did such a good job taking care of participants – with blood work, lab work, physical exams and follow ups – that she had no qualms. And she believes others should take part in trials as well.
“Unless you have a physician advising against it, do it. Medical trials are so important.”
Trial patient #3: R. Anderson
Anderson loved to take walks with his wife. But since suffering a foot/heel injury in 2010, he’d had to sacrifice this life’s pleasure. His doctor recommended him for a clinical trial after trying many other pain treatment options including pain medications, patches, creams and injections. He started his trial last summer – as a skeptic.
“After it was recommended to me, I did some research online and spoke with a few doctors. I was iffy about it initially, but eventually decided to volunteer. Even so, I had lots of doubts it would work,” said Anderson.
The results exceeded his expectations. Today, Anderson’s nerve pain is almost completely gone. He went from “standing on pins and needles” to being able to walk around and enjoy life. While the stimulator he has installed is temporary, he hopes to have a permanent one soon.
With 85-95% pain relief, Anderson has a new lease on life. He also has high hopes that his trial will lead to FDA approval and widespread use of the high frequency stimulator. And like many other trial participants, he not only wants others to consider participating in trials – he has already encouraged many to do so. But don’t look for Anderson to be standing around talking to folks…he’s making up for lost time hitting the walking trail with his wife.
Share your own experience with clinical trials research in the comments below.