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.
On a beautiful day in 1995, Julie decided to extend her usual 4-mile walk to 6 miles. The next day, her foot hurt. As a nurse accustomed to spending time on her feet, Julie knew something was wrong when the pain did not go away after a few days.
"My doctor thought it was as stress fracture and had me wear a hard plastic boot to support the foot for a number of weeks, but it did not heal," Julie remembers.
After two years of pain, Julie underwent surgery that revealed a ruptured joint in her left foot at the site of the stress fracture. The rupture was repaired but the pain persisted.
"I had such pain that I couldn't walk or sleep. I became depressed," says Julie.
A podiatrist diagnosed Julie with complex regional pain syndrome and tried addressing it with neurostimulation therapy. Neurostimulation therapy interrupts pain signals to the brain with mild electrical impulses delivered to the area near the spine. When the treatment did not sufficiently control the pain, she underwent further surgery.
"The pain was terrible," Julie says. "I tried every type of medication without success. I cried myself to sleep. I became desperate and feared I would lose my mind from the pain."
In search of a solution, Julie traveled to Chicago to see an anesthesiologist specializing in pain. She underwent a screening test to determine if she was a candidate for drug delivery therapy—a treatment that delivers pain medication to the space surrounding the spinal cord.
"During the trial I experienced a 60 percent reduction in pain. I was very hopeful," she recalls.
In August 1999, Julie underwent a procedure to continue her drug delivery therapy. And in 2007, she received a drug delivery pump that could hold more medication. In the weeks after the procedure she developed an infection, which required surgery to move the pump to a different location.
Although Julie did get an infection, she did not have any other complications. 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 complete list of adverse events that have been associated with the therapy, please refer to the Important Safety Information.
After receiving drug delivery therapy, Julie—and those around her—noticed a difference. "Everyone commented on how happy I was. My dream had been to get back to horseback riding. I was able to do that, and also gardening," she says.
Today, Julie is back to being an active mother. "When I compare the way I used to feel to how I feel now, it is like heaven! I feel so good that I have vowed to never complain about pain again," says Julie.