Pain Doc Teams Up With Race Car Driver to Offer Hope to Chronic Pain Sufferers

Scripps La Jolla pain specialist Christopher Chisholm, M.D., is teaming up with professional race car driver Michael Roman to offer help and healing for chronic pain sufferers.

Roman will share his story about how he successfully receiving a spinal cord stimulator for a phantom pain caused by the amputation of his right leg after a severe knee infection. And Dr. Chisholm will address the practice of pain medicine as a multi-disciplinary approach in a free public seminar at Scripps Memorial Hospital La Jolla on Thursday, Sept. 25., at 5:30 p.m. Note: This event has already taken place.]

An estimated 3 million people suffer from chronic pain so severe that they can’t work. It is further estimated that over 50 million patients suffer from chronic pain due to back, leg and hip problems, chemotherapy, amputation, diabetes, facial nerve problems, HIV infections, multiple sclerosis, shingles and spine surgery.

Michael Roman’s Story

Thirteen years ago, Roman was an energetic orthopedic surgical assistant. In 1994, he injured his knee playing basketball. He underwent a ‘routine’ surgery and afterward, an infection set in that the team of physicians couldn’t bring under control. A subsequent series of surgeries—a staggering 33 in all—could not save the leg, which was amputated in late in 1995.

“I fought very hard to save my leg. When I realized that I was going to have an amputation, I thought at least my life could get back to some semblance of order,” Roman, a native of Chicago who now lives in St. Louis, recalls. “I was wrong. My life became worse after the amputation.”

After his leg was removed, Roman suffered from phantom leg pain, which is very common to amputees. Three “revisions” (a surgical shortening of the stump) were also performed. The pain only worsened. Like many people with chronic pain, he took powerful prescription drugs to treat the pain and eventually became addicted to morphine and other pain medications.

After a decade of debilitating pain that rendered him unable to work and led to drug addiction, Roman met a St. Louis pain specialist who implanted in him a revolutionary spinal cord stimulator device. Now he is finally free of pain and pursuing his dream of racing in the Indianapolis 500. Roman’s efforts serve as hope for hope of a normal life for thousands of people who suffer from chronic pain.

“Now that I have my life back, I am using my new profile as a race car driver to talk with doctors and patients about the alternatives to living with chronic pain in every city where I race. We are beginning what we hope will be a national dialogue on pain,” Roman says enthusiastically.

On Thursday, Sept. 25, Roman will be featured at a discussion on the treatment of pain in the Great Hall of the Schaetzel Center at Scripps Memorial Hospital (9888 Genesee Ave., La Jolla). The event, which is scheduled to begin at the hospital at 5:30 p.m., will also feature Dr. Christopher Chisholm, a Scripps La Jolla pain specialist.

“There are a number of ways to treat pain that occurs when nerves are injured, cut or damaged. Modalities used can range from oral medications to more aggressive techniques such as spinal cord stimulation,” according to Dr. Chisholm. “Every patient is different and requires an individual pain treatment plan.”

Roman is encouraging people living with chronic pain and their families to visit an educational website that is fittingly called On the website, chronic pain sufferers and their families can locate a pain specialist near where they live and can share their experiences with other victims of chronic pain.

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