Steve Elam's Story


"I've been around a lot of doctors but Doctor Classen and Doctor Bailey are probably the two most caring doctors I have ever met in my life."
- Steve Elam, age 42, chronic pain patient


In 1996, Granbury resident, Steve Elam suffered from a gruesome work-related injury, resulting in Reflex Sympathy Dystrophy (RSD). Elam was severely wounded after a circular saw sliced into his forearm causing ligament, muscle and nerve injury. Elam underwent several surgical procedures requiring radial nerve and neurovascular reconstruction. Following several surgical procedures, Elam continued to have relentless pain in his forearm.


"The best way to describe it [the pain]," Elam said," is to imagine having a really bad sunburn and someone taking sandpaper and rubbing it against your skin."


RSD is a chronic pain disorder in which the sufferer's sympathetic nervous system misfires in its neural response and intractable pain begins to overtake the victim's life. Symptoms of RSD include localized burning and aching sensations; sensitivity to light, temperature and touch; and discoloration of the skin.


"Just blowing on my arm would set it on fire," Elam said. "No one could touch me at all without setting me on fire."


Elam also suffered from migraine headaches. According to Elam, his headaches left him exhausted and caused him to vomit excessively. Elam said his chronic pain conditions left him feeling depressed, even suicidal. He felt like he had no reason to continue living with the pain. He rarely left the house, spent all of his time in a bed or in a recliner in total darkness.


"Because of the headaches, I couldn't eat and I couldn't let any light in my eyes," Elam said. "I had no life at all."


Elam's primary care physician referred him to TPMA to undergo a pain management program. Elam underwent several pain management procedures including regional and alpha blocks. Sustaining only temporary relief from the blocks, Dr. Classen found Elam to be a candidate for an Implantable Spinal Cord Stimulator to control his chronic pain condition caused by RSD and an Implantable Peripheral Nerve Stimulator to manage his migraine headaches.


"If it hadn't been for Doctor Classen and Doctor Bailey at TPMA, I wouldn't be here today," Elam said. "I was to the point of no return. Life was horrible."


As part of his pain management program, TPMA referred Elam to a psychiatrist. Elam sought psychiatric treatment for three months, taking oral medication for depression.


Elam said his condition stunned him and his family. He said he admires his courageous wife and children during the time of his suffering.


"It takes a lot of person to stand by the person who is in pain," Elam said.


Today, Elam looks back over the last several years and realizes his milestones. Elam has prevailed over trauma, chronic pain and depression. Before seeking treatment at TPMA, Elam described himself as being lost and unable to comprehend life. Today, although he is not 100 percent pain free, Elam said he is able better enjoy his life.


"I still have some pain," Elam said, "But I can live with it."

Ashley M. Classen, D.O, F.A.O.C.A.  &  E. Jo Bailey, M.D.

1401 Henderson Street  •  Fort Worth, Texas 76102

Phone 817.332.3664  •  Fax 817.334.0575