The Pain Didn't Break Her. Now, It Could Make Her.

Marah Miller — who's suffered complex pain since sixth grade — is driven to find relief. And not just for herself.

Pain and Movement|Jun.27, 2021

Marah Miller knows the path she's been on since she was a kid, since the car accident. She knows it just like she knows the pathway the pain travels from her ankle to her brain. It's a path like the one she's been on to find lasting relief from that pain, a path that's leading to her next destination, medical school at St. George's University. She knows these paths because they're well-worn from, and greatly influenced by, her experience as a child facing complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) through more than 55 procedures and surgeries that included spending months — years — homebound and in the hospital around the very doctors and nurses she hopes to someday join, medical professionals trying all they could to relieve her pain-filled reality.

She knows how pockmarked her path to this point was before it finally led to our Proclaim dorsal root ganglion (DRG) neurostimulator, a welcome fork in her road that has brought precisely that lasting relief she's journeyed so long to find. It's a relief and functionality that allowed her to travel to earn her undergraduate degree in biochemistry from Florida State, a master's in biomedical science from Barry University and will soon see her starting work on her M.D. so she can show those on similarly painful paths the way home, the same way her doctors showed her.

Yes, that is a lot to digest.

You have it easy.

Marah Miller lived it. She still does.

In her own words — with minor edits for clarity — this is her story so far and where she hopes it leads in the future, when she's Dr. Marah Miller.

I was born in Mokena, Ill.

We moved to Bradenton, Fla. I kept swimming with my brother. Actually made it to the Junior Olympics. Definitely not a distance swimmer. Distance used to make me cry. My main event was the IM (individual medley).

I also started playing the flute at a young age.

Right before I went into sixth grade in 2006, I was in a car wreck.

That completely took my mobility. I no longer was a swimmer. Completely stopped swimming, lost my ability to walk, all that fun jazz.

At first, immediately after the accident, it was oh, "My ankle just hurts." And they're like, "It's a sprain." And that made sense, ya know? Then, as I tried to go back to swim practices, tried to go back to my daily life, I have to run a mile in gym, I was like, "Oh, this doesn't feel right."

Even when they put me in a cast, I didn't feel like that was going to be the fix-all. Because I don't want to use my leg. I don't want to be on it.

Something's wrong. Something's wrong. This is wrong. Please fix it.

I always had swimmer's feet. But to this day, you can tell that my right foot is slightly smaller than my left. My right leg definitely paused. It was a lot skinnier, it lost muscle. My growth plates slowed down a little. It definitely affected that physically.

And then, the social aspect. I definitely had a huge pause in social milestones, in middle school especially.

I was homebound for basically a whole year.

I was that weird kid on crutches before then. And then I was that weird kid that needed some help to carry their backpack because I couldn't deal with any extra weight.

I used to have a spinal cord stimulator and it failed. The pain was coming back even worse. Your dreams … you're not going to be a doctor. That's about to be ripped away from you.

I was like, "What do I know? I know how to research."

When they handed me the information on the DRG, my initial reaction was like, "Not another stimulator."

But I was able to use that power of knowledge to know what's going on, to read that information and be like, "Oh this is a completely different game." And develop a confidence in my treatment plan that I never had as a child.

Now that I found that perfect setting, very rarely do I need to turn it up. And that's only when I have a breakthrough flare up, which is so much more rare. And I'm completely off all medications too, so I'd rather turn up my device real quick than take something.

It kind of coincides with stress. Because flare ups can be caused by a lot of stress. Obviously, during the med school process, that's been a big one.

As a young kid who wanted to be a doctor, that's what I used to get me through a lot of my long hospital stays, to kind of fight through that. At least I got to be around doctors and nurses and that environment.

Pain management is obviously what I'm most passionate about. And what I have a stronger drive for. But I'm open to other potential pathways.

I still play the flute just for fun.




While DRG therapy has been proven successful in many patients, it may not be right for everyone. Talk to your doctor to see if the Proclaim™ DRG Neurostimulator System may help you manage your pain.


Brief Summary:
Prior to using these devices, please review the User’s Guide for a complete listing of indications, contraindications, warnings, precautions, potential adverse events, and directions for use. The system is intended to be used with leads and associated extensions that are compatible with the system.

Indications for Use:
US: Spinal column stimulation via epidural and intra-spinal lead access to the dorsal root ganglion as an aid in the management of moderate to severe chronic intractable* pain of the lower limbs in adult patients with Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS) types I and II.**

*Study subjects from the ACCURATE clinical study had failed to achieve adequate pain relief from at least 2 prior pharmacologic treatments from at least 2 different drug classes and continued their pharmacologic therapy during the clinical study.

**Please note that in 1994, a consensus group of pain medicine experts gathered by the International Association for the Study of Pain (IASP) reviewed diagnostic criteria and agreed to rename reflex sympathetic dystrophy (RSD) and causalgia, as complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) types I and II, respectively.

International: Management of chronic intractable pain.

US: Patients who are unable to operate the system, who are poor surgical risks, or who have failed to receive effective pain relief during trial stimulation.

International: Patients who are unable to operate the system, are poor surgical risks, are pregnant, or under the age of 18.

Warnings/Precautions: Diathermy therapy, implanted cardiac systems or other active implantable devices, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), computed tomography (CT), electrosurgery devices, ultrasonic scanning equipment, therapeutic radiation, explosive or flammable gases, theft detectors and metal screening devices, lead movement, operation of machinery and equipment, pediatric use, pregnancy, and case damage.

Adverse Effects: Painful stimulation, loss of pain relief, surgical risks (e.g., paralysis). User's Guide must be reviewed for detailed disclosure.