Meet Tyler: Helping Patients Navigate Chronic Pain
When Tyler, a Physician Assistant from Clifton, New Jersey, meets a new chronic pain patient, he first asks about their goals and what success looks like to them.
He recalls the day a woman came into his practice and said, “I can’t do anything. I want to play with my grandkids.” So that became their focus. When nothing was helping her – the medications, the epidurals – Tyler introduced her to an HF10 spinal cord stimulator, and she decided to try a trial. After the trial, she came to him in tears and said, “I feel complete. My grandkids can hug me, and I can play with them on the floor!”
This is one of the many patient stories that motivates Tyler every day. A story that exemplifies the incredibly meaningful change successful interventional pain management can make for the patient and everyone around them.
What makes Tyler successful as an advanced practice provider? Here are a few tips he shared with us:
1) Focus on Your Patient’s Goals
While the overall objective is typically to decrease their pain and increase their function, it’s important to ask the patient about their particular goals, like playing with their grandkids, getting back to work, or working in the garden. Then, work together toward long-term health that will support those goals. While medications may provide relief now, the potential side-effects and changes to their daily routine may not be the best option for the long term.
2) Listen and Acknowledge Your Patient’s Emotions
Dealing with chronic pain is incredibly difficult, and many patients struggle not just with physical pain, but the depression and lack of fulfillment that comes with it. It’s important to acknowledge and empathize with those emotions as you help them navigate their journey.
3) Find Your Favorite Visuals and Analogies
Pain management options can be scary and hard to picture or understand at first. Tyler compares an HF10 trial to “test driving a car” and calls the leads “the size of angel-hair pasta,” so the technology is simple to visualize and less intimidating. He also uses the brochures and CD provided by Nevro to help patients understand how HF10 works.
4) Take a Team Approach
As an advanced practice provider, you don’t have to do it alone. Nevro teammates are the experts on HF10. And, through the Connect Card Program, patients can fill out a card with their information and drop it into a box in the office. A Nevro representative will be in touch right away to educate the patient on what to expect and answer any questions they may have throughout the process.
Deciding to move forward with a spinal cord stimulator is a big decision, and many patients find it very helpful to connect to a Patient Ambassador – a patient volunteer who will share their personal experience with HF10.
Through this program, patients have the opportunity to have a 1:1 discussion with another patient who is using HF10 to manage their chronic pain. Ambassadors can answer questions about the trial and implant procedure, how HF10 has impacted their life and pain levels, and what daily life with HF10 is like.
There is something powerful about connecting and learning from the experiences of someone who has had a similar experience. These discussions go a long way in helping the patient make an informed decision regarding what is best for them.
Thank you, Tyler, for sharing your story and tips with all of us!