This story recounts the experience of a patient who is receiving Medtronic neurostimulation therapy (also known as spinal cord stimulation) 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.
Rod was an avid golfer and worked as a car dealership owner in Portland, Oregon. He first experienced back pain as a result of herniated discs in the 1980s. He had two discectomy surgeries over the next ten years, and a laminectomy was performed in 1989. The surgeries were successful and his pain was under control.
In 2000, Rod's pain started escalating. "I was limping, I couldn't climb stairs, and my wife had to put my socks on my feet and tie my shoes," he recalls.
The pain affected all aspects of Rod's life. He was less productive at work, unable to golf, and he couldn't sit or stand in one position for more than 15 minutes.
"Shooting pains that felt like an electrical shock radiated down the right side of my lower back and into my right leg," Rod remembers. "The pain would change, and sometimes it was more like an electrical burning sensation. It was so bad I couldn't stand it."
Desperate for relief, he turned to a pain doctor for help. The doctor gave Rod a prescription for OxyContin®. "It was like a miracle drug," he says. "It took all my pain away. But ultimately, that drug became a nightmare for me. My dosage increased to 400mg/day and I experienced withdrawal symptoms without it. I also took Vicodin® or Percoset® to handle my breakthrough pain."
In 2005, Rod began using a TENS unit and it seemed to dull the pain. His doctor thought a neurostimulation system might provide greater relief and allow him to reduce the oral drugs.
In September 2006, Rod had a Boston Scientific neurostimulation system implanted. The device was an improvement over treatment with narcotics. Then, in April 2010, he suffered a transient ischemic attack (TIA). At the hospital, several tests and a CT scan were performed, and an MRI was scheduled.
"The neurosurgeon wanted the MRI immediately to determine the cause of the TIA and to assess any damage," he says. But Rod wouldn't get the MRI for another five days while his clinical team determined if it was safe for him to have the test with his implanted Boston Scientific neurostimulation system. Ultimately, the neurostimulation system was surgically removed, Rod had the MRI, and it revealed no lasting damage.
Aware that he was at increased risk for another TIA or even a stroke, Rod wanted to be sure that in the future he could have an MRI head scan without delay. His doctor recommended that he have a Medtronic neurostimulation system implanted that is approved for MRI head scans.
While Rod 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.
Today, Rod feels significant pain relief from his Medtronic neurostimulation system, and he is no longer addicted to oral opiates.
"The Medtronic neurostimulation system is easy to use," he says. "I can increase the intensity and range of the stimulation in ways I couldn't before." Rod says. "With my pain under control I'm healthier, I'm not depressed, and my life just keeps getting better all the time."
Recently, Rod traveled four hours by car to attend his daughter's 30th birthday party and experienced no spasms in his back. "I could stand at the party for hours conversing with friends and family while my Medtronic neurostimulator kept my back pain at bay," Rod says. "But best of all, I danced with my daughter on her special day…without pain!"