This story recounts the experience of a patient who is receiving Medtronic drug delivery therapy for the treatment of chronic pain. Medtronic invited him/her to share his/her story candidly. Please bear in mind that the experiences are specific to this particular person.
As an executive assistant at a bank in California, Joan's hands were critical to her professional success. In 1999 and in 2000, her thumb joints had been fused in an effort to control her arthritis. So when her hands became swollen and blue and she experienced burning, stabbing, and tingling, Joan knew it was something other than arthritis. It was complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS).
"At one point, the pain was so great I never thought I would feel better," Joan remembers. "My hands were not a normal size and the pain was constant. I had trouble holding a pen and performing my daily activities."
Medications helped to control the pain, but left her tired. When nerve blocks didn't provide relief, Joan's anesthesiologist—who also specialized in pain management—told her about neurostimulation therapy.
To be sure that neurostimulation would provide relief for Joan's pain, in 2001 she participated in a trial assessment during which she was given test neurostimulation.
"The trial was easy and I felt instant relief," she recalls. Three days later, Joan opted to go beyond the trial and begin long-term neurostimulation therapy.
While Joan did not have any complications, there are risks associated with the procedure. The most frequently reported problems following the neurostimulator implant surgery include infection, lead movement, pain at the implant site, loss of therapy effect, and therapy that did not meet the patient's expectations. For a complete list of adverse events that have been associated with the therapy, please refer to the Important Safety Information.
Unfortunately, by 2005 the CRPS in Joan's hands had spread to her legs. When medications and nerve blocks proved unsuccessful, she had a second neurostimulator placed to control the leg pain.
Eventually, it was clear that neurostimulation could not adequately control Joan's leg pain. Her physician recommended that she participate in a screening test for drug delivery therapy.
After the screening test, Joan had the second neurostimulator removed (the one for the pain in her hands remained) and had a pump placed for drug delivery. Her doctor adjusted the pump over a few weeks to find the optimal dosage.
While Joan did not have any complications, there are risks associated with the procedure. The most frequently reported problems following drug infusion system implant surgery include infection, spinal fluid leak, pump inversion, skin erosion, drug side effects, loss of therapy effect, and therapy that did not meet the patient's expectations. For a list of adverse events that have been associated with the therapy, please refer to the Important Safety Information.
"Today I feel wonderful," Joan reports. "My hands and legs have very little pain. I have to pace myself, but I volunteer at an elementary school, I walk to the store, bake, and travel."
Joan believes that others can benefit from her experience and so she volunteers as a Medtronic Patient Ambassador.
"As an Ambassador, I help people to not be afraid of the therapy and to know what lies ahead. I can tell others about my experience so they can make the right decision. After all that I have been through, I feel good!"