Pain 'pacemaker' is a life-changer for Peter

Peter Frampton with his wife and children
Peter Frampton with his wife and children

Published on 26 September 2019

After being kicked in the back while on duty, police officer Peter Frampton was left in such severe pain he feared he would never be able to go back to work.

The 36-year-old dad of two was relying on strong painkillers after the incident aggravated an old injury, but was still in constant discomfort and found even getting in or out of a car difficult.

A keen footballer, he had to give up sport and had to sit and watch as his children played, unable to join in.

But thanks to a spinal cord stimulator, a pioneering piece of medical technology sometimes called a ‘pain pacemaker’ and staff at East Kent Hospitals, he is now able to enjoy life again.

Peter, who is telling his story to mark International Pain Awareness Month in September, said: “I had to take a significant amount of time off work and when I went back I could only work reduced hours.

“There was a massive fear of being told I couldn’t carry on. It caused quite a lot of anxiety and stress for me and my wife.

“The spinal cord stimulator was life-changing – I can’t praise it enough. It is an amazing piece of equipment and technology and it’s been a godsend for me.”

Patients who are suitable for the stimulator must first try other methods of controlling their pain, and Peter had injections and other treatments.

Some brought temporary relief, but after a week or two the pain would return as bad as before.

He said: “I was reliant on codeine to reduce the pain but I haven’t had to use any pain medication since having the stimulator.

“There are still good days and bad days but the bad days are significantly reduced and I am still able to carry out normal activities.

“I’m back at work full time and I’m coaching football teams and running around with my children – things I was frightened I would never be able to do.

“It has changed my life and I am so grateful for the opportunity.”

The stimulator is a small device like a pacemaker, implanted underneath the skin and attached to two wires that lead to the spinal cord. It is programmed by medical staff and patients can change the settings and turn it up or down, or target particular areas of the body.

East Kent Hospitals is the only Trust in the county to offer the treatment, with the nearest alternative centres in London, Southampton or Essex.

The Trust has specialist pain clinics at the Kent and Canterbury, Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother, and William Harvey Hospitals, offering a range of treatments, and cases are reviewed by a multi-disciplinary team including expert nurses, a psychologist, occupational therapist and consultants.

Specialist nurse Tina Elliott said the team was able to offer hope to patients who had previously been told nothing could be done.

She said: “Things have changed and we can now offer patients a lot more than we used to be able to, thanks to new technology and understanding.

“Chronic pain can’t be cured but we can help people manage it and learn to live with it.”

For more information on the pain team, visit https://www.ekhuft.nhs.uk/patients-and-visitors/services/chronic-pain/