How an 83-year-old fitness influencer overcame chronic pain

Sep 27, 2023

The millions of people who follow Erika Rischko on her TikTok and Instagram social media channels do so to get regular workout sessions with plank challenges, burpees, ab rollouts and working with 110 lb weights. But what sets Erika apart from most of her fitness influencer peers is that she is 83 years old. According to Erika, her workout videos are a fountain of youth. “I enjoy trying out new things and testing my limits,” she says with a broad smile.

While she joyfully dances in her videos and makes her workouts look easy, this was not always the case for Erika. In 2017, Erika began to experience chronic back pain.  She tried to remain active, but the pain led her into a downward spiral. “I often sat in my room and asked myself what I was doing wrong,” Erika recalls. “I could not be as active as I wanted to, and even leisure walks through the city were so tough I had to stop every few steps.”

Chronic pain is a common health issue, with 100 million affected in the U.S. alone.[1] While acute pain typically lasts no longer than two months when treated properly and occurs immediately after an injury, chronic pain is defined as a continuous and long-term pain lasting for more than 12 weeks.

Multiple doctor appointments and initial treatments with medication did not bring Erika lasting relief. “It really was a difficult time. My quality of life was severely impacted,” she says. Following a referral to a pain clinic near Cologne, Germany, she learned about spinal cord stimulation (SCS), a procedure in which a small device is implanted to deliver mild electrical pulses through the spinal cord to interrupt pain signals before they reach the brain.

The SCS treatment brought Erika almost immediate relief. “Look at me -- I run around, do all sorts of things, and can live my life the way I like it: active, together with my family and with a lot of fitness. I am very grateful.”

Watch Erika's inspiring story here.

To learn more about chronic pain and treatment methods, visit

Results from case studies are not necessarily predictive of results in other cases. Results in other cases may vary.

[1] Institute of Medicine Report from the Committee on Advancing Pain Research, Care, and Education: Relieving Pain in America, A Blueprint for Transforming Prevention, Care, Education and Research. The National Academies Press, 2011. Accessed March 25, 2016.