Eva's Spinal Cord Stimulation Story

Hear from others who have struggled along a pain journey and see how they found relief.

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.

Eva's Spinal Cord Stimulation Story

Eva was at home, climbing the stairs with a basket of laundry. When she reached the landing, she felt a pop in her back before her left leg gave out and she fell backward down the stairs. She broke her pelvis in three places and herniated two discs in her lower back. Eva was transported by ambulance to the hospital, where she stayed for 10 days before returning home for 15 months of bed rest. During that time, Eva saw several doctors but they could not offer relief.

"It was such a hard time," Eva recalls. "I needed help to get out of bed, to go to the bathroom, to wash my hair, and get dressed."

Coping with excruciating pain
Eva's pain was in the lower left side of her back and radiated down into her buttocks, her left leg, and left foot.

"The pain was so excruciating that it's hard to put it into words," she says. "Sometimes it was a stabbing pain and other times it was a constant driven pain."

Eva lost her job as a laboratory technologist because of her situation. She missed many of her sons' high school activities, and could only be mobile with crutches or a cane. After seeing many doctors and having many tests, she was told she'd have to live with the pain. During this time, Eva tried different treatments to find relief. She took pain medications that took the edge off the pain, but they made her feel groggy.

"The medications really hindered my mind to the point where I couldn't participate in my kids' homework or give them any other kind of help," she says. "When I look back, I wasn't much of a mom back then because I was so drugged up to control the terrible pain. I could hardly stand it." Eva also tried physical therapy and steroid injections, but nothing helped the pain. Eva's doctor in Mankato, Minn., referred her to a pain clinic in the Twin Cities. Percocet and Neurontin were prescribed, but the pain persisted.

"The pain never got better or moved," Eva says. "It was the exact same pain, all the time."

Discovering neurostimulation therapy
The physicians at the pain clinic thought Eva would be a good candidate for neurostimulation therapy.

Eva began receiving AdaptiveStim™ in August 2010 as part of an FDA-approved clinical study. AdaptiveStim, available only from Medtronic with the RestoreSensor™ neurostimulator, automatically adjusts stimulation with a change in position. When Eva moves from sitting or standing to lying down or to upright and active (e.g. walking), the device remembers the preferred stimulation programmed for that position and applies it. As a result, she doesn't have to adjust amplitude as frequently and changing positions is more comfortable, when compared to conventional stimulation.

Risks of neurostimulation therapy
Eva did not experience any complications with her surgery. However, some people do experience surgical complications such as infection, pain at the site of surgery, or bleeding into the epidural space. Once the neurostimulation system is implanted, device complications may occur and include jolting, leads breaking, or movement of the leads within the epidural space, which may require reprogramming or surgical replacement of the leads. These events may result in uncomfortable stimulation or loss of therapy.

“My family sees a huge difference in me”
Neurostimulation therapy has been a positive experience for Eva. "Now I can walk and put weight on my left leg. I still have pain, but it's nothing like what I had to endure before," Eva says. "The pain is probably a 2 or a 3 on a daily basis," on a scale of 1 to 10 with 0 indicating no pain and 10 indicating worst pain possible.

Since her neurostimulation system was implanted, Eva doesn't need prescribed medication to help control her pain. At times she takes an over-the-counter medication like acetaminophen. Twice last year she had breakthrough pain, and in those situations she took a dose of Percocet.

The AdaptiveStim feature on her neurostimulator helps keep Eva comfortable. "I love AdaptiveStim," she says. "It's all preset at different stimulation levels when I am sitting or lying down. It even boosts up the stimulation when I'm exercising so I'm comfortable during my workout and afterward."

She appreciates AdaptiveStim technology's responsiveness. "AdaptiveStim is immediate. It responds right away to my position. It just works!" Every 10 days, Eva recharges her neurostimulator battery.

Eva has gone back to school to study graphic design and multimedia. "I'm very grateful that I have an opportunity to experience AdaptiveStim technology. My family sees a huge difference in me. I can do things again. I can stand up and have a regular life."



Marty's Spinal Cord Stimulation Story

Hear from others who have struggled along a pain journey and see how they found relief.

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.

Marty's Spinal Cord Stimulation Story

For as long as Marty can remember, his legs have hurt. When he was young, the aches and pains were attributed to growing pains. As he got older, the pain continued.

"When I got into my early 20s, it felt like my legs had 100 lbs. tied to them," Marty says. "I'd drag my legs around like feed sacks."

The pain wasn’t constant—it came and went. As he got older, the pain was worse and occurred daily. Sometimes, it was a dull ache. Other times, it was sharp. The pain settled in both of his legs from his waist to his ankles.

"In the past 10 years, my legs have given out on me and I've really faltered," he says. Marty had to give up the things he enjoyed doing most: playing with his grandkids, horseback riding, flea market shopping, even camping.

Marty tried physical therapy and pain medications that made him feel drowsy. As his body became accustomed to the dosages, the pain symptoms would reappear and the dosages increased.

"At one point, the pain was so awful that I asked the good Lord to take me home because I didn’t want to handle it anymore."

“I wasn’t very optimistic”
Then, Marty and his wife moved to Kerrville, Texas and he was referred to a pain clinic in San Antonio. At his appointment, his doctor suggested neurostimulation therapy. Marty had seen a video on the therapy.

"Nothing had helped me so far, so I wasn't very optimistic," Marty says. "But I wanted to try it."

Marty had a screening test that allowed him to temporarily use the neurostimulator to determine if the therapy would work for him.

"The day I left the hospital with my temporary neurostimulator, my grandson was born. I rode four hours in the car to Abilene. Then, I walked three miles with another grandson. I hadn't sat in a car that long or walked that far for years! I couldn’t believe it worked!"

Marty began receiving AdaptiveStim™ technology in August 2010 as part of an FDA-approved clinical study. AdaptiveStim technology automatically adjusts stimulation with a change in position. When Marty moves from sitting or standing to lying down or to upright and active (e.g. dancing), the device remembers the preferred stimulation for that position and applies it. As a result, he doesn’t have to adjust amplitude as frequently and changing positions is more comfortable, when compared to conventional stimulation.

Risks of neurostimulation therapy
Marty didn't experience any complications with his surgery. However, some people do experience surgical complications such as infection, pain at the site of surgery, or bleeding into the epidural space. Once the neurostimulation system is implanted, device complications may occur and include jolting, leads breaking, or movement of the leads within the epidural space, which may require reprogramming or surgical replacement of the leads. These events may result in uncomfortable stimulation or loss of therapy.

“I feel great!”
Marty has made significant strides with his device. "Since my teenage years, my family has watched me go downhill. Recently, my cousin came to visit us out in the country. I grabbed a tractor tire and walked down the hill. He hadn't seen me do that for years. Before neurostimulation, I couldn't have walked down the hill because I'd lose my balance, and I couldn't carry anything."

He likes the AdaptiveStim technology feature, available only from Medtronic with the RestoreSensor™ neurostimulator. "When I lie down, I don't have to worry about the stimulation being too strong and then manually adjust it. I can lie down and it automatically goes to a lower setting. When I stand up, it automatically increases. With AdaptiveStim technology, I can set it and forget it."

Marty still has some pain, but he estimates that it's been reduced by 50% to 75%. He takes some pain medication, but at much lower dosages than he needed before receiving the device.

Marty is back to riding horses, working the tractor, and playing kickball and basketball with his grandchildren. He and his wife hadn’t been dancing for six years, but now they go twice a month.

"I thank the good Lord for the knowledge He gave my doctor. I feel great!"



Robin’s Spinal Cord Stimulation Story

Hear from others who have struggled along a pain journey and see how they found relief.

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.

Robin’s Spinal Cord Stimulation Story

Robin

Robin became disabled in 1995 after an electrical accident damaged the nerves in her right hand. The thrill of being a freshman in college suddenly ended as Robin had to deal with intense burning sensations and stabbing pain in her hand and wrist.

Pain medication helped ease some of the pain, but made Robin "a different kind of person," she recalls. "I was not happy." However, the pain medication allowed her to cope with the pain enough to remain in college and pursue her degree.

The pain gradually progressed up her arm, from her hand up to her shoulder. By her junior year, the pain became so severe that Robin lost the use of her arm for eight months. "My fiancée had to cut my food and tie my shoes and brush my hair," she says.

Nerve blocks worked for awhile, and Robin regained the use of her arm, but her pain began returning within a week of the injection.

“I was taking pain medication four times a day”
When Robin went to another clinic for a specialized nerve block, which again lasted no more than a week, she learned about neurostimulation as an option for relieving pain. She knew she had to try it.

"I was taking pain medication four times a day," Robin says, "and I couldn't imagine doing that for the rest of my life. The pain was so bad, I wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy."

Robin was scheduled for a neurostimulation trial, also known as a screening test. "It was wonderful to catch a break from the pain," she recalls.

After the screening test, Robin went forward with neurostimulation therapy from Medtronic. It relieved her pain and allowed her to stop taking pain medication.

Robin didn't experience any complications with her surgery. However, some people do experience surgical complications such as infection, pain at the site of surgery, or bleeding into the epidural space. Once the neurostimulation system is implanted, device complications may occur and include jolting, leads breaking, or movement of the leads within the epidural space, which may require reprogramming or surgical replacement of the leads. These events may result in uncomfortable stimulation or loss of therapy.

"It was scary and exciting all at the same time," Robin recalls, "to wake up in the morning and not feel the pain."

Living a full life with neurostimulation therapy
Robin can't do everything she used to be able to do. "I don't hold my two-and-a-half-year-old in my right arm, I use my l left arm," she explains. "I don't lift more than 25 pounds." If Robin has an unusually active day, then her arm is not as strong at the end of the day.

"Without the neurostimulation," Robin says, "I wouldn't have a day at the lake. I wouldn't have Ozzie to play with. And we wouldn't have Owen, who's on the way." Her chronic pain is no longer a barrier to raising a family.



Tanya's Spinal Cord Stimulation Story

Hear from others who have struggled along a pain journey and see how they found relief.

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.

Tanya's Spinal Cord Stimulation Story

Tanya doesn't remember a single event that lead to her chronic pain. It appeared gradually, beginning in 1997 as a stabbing, throbbing pain in her back. While driving she'd have to pull over for a few minutes, and when she was walking she'd have to stop moving. Her sleep was interrupted by the pain.

"It was puzzling," Tanya says, "because there was no injury." Tests revealed that Tanya had a herniated disc and degeneration. In addition, her tailbone was crushed, possibly as a result of falling down a flight of stairs.

Spending most of her time on the couch
Tanya's symptoms increased over the next four years. She felt a tingling sensation in her back and lost feeling in her feet. She had to give up activities with her five children.

"I wasn't able to lift anything or be physical," she says. "I loved to walk and bike, and gradually all those things went away. My favorite activity was jumping on the trampoline with my kids. I lost that and I missed it the most."

Eventually, Tanya's activities were limited to cooking breakfast, lunch, and dinner and going grocery shopping. She spent most of her time on the couch and relied heavily on her family.

"I wondered if my days would ever be brighter. I wondered if I'd ever be able to play with the kids again."

Tanya tried many treatments with the hope that they'd provide relief, including water therapy, physical therapy, steroid shots, nerve blocks, a TENS unit, and heavy pain medication.

"At first the narcotics made me tired," Tanya remembers. "Over time my body would adapt to the drug. They helped a little, but not a lot."

Tanya had a laminectomy and a three-level fusion. The pain returned.

Discovering neurostimulation therapy
Tanya visited a pain clinic where she learned about Medtronic neurostimulation therapy. She was eager to proceed with the treatment. She had a screening test that allowed her to use a temporary neurostimulator to see if it would give her relief.

Tanya began receiving AdaptiveStim™ technology in August 2010 as part of an FDA-approved clinical study. AdaptiveStim technology, available only from Medtronic with the RestoreSensor™ neurostimulator, automatically adjusts stimulation with a change in position. When Tanya moves from sitting or standing to lying down or to upright and active (e.g. jogging), the AdaptiveStim feature remembers the preferred stimulation for that position and applies it. As a result, she doesn't have to adjust amplitude as frequently and changing positions is more comfortable, when compared to conventional stimulation.

Risks of neurostimulation therapy
Tanya didn't experience any complications with her surgery. However, some people do experience surgical complications such as infection, pain at the site of surgery, or bleeding into the epidural space. Once the neurostimulation system is implanted, device complications may occur and include jolting, leads breaking, or movement of the leads within the epidural space, which may require reprogramming or surgical replacement of the leads. These events may result in uncomfortable stimulation or loss of therapy.

Living a full life with neurostimulation therapy
"All of my kids—ages 17 down to age four—have grown up with my back issue, especially my 17-year-old daughter," says Tanya. "My health was a constant worry for her. She'd wonder if I was going to be alright and how things were going for me."

Things are better now for Tanya and her family. "The neurostimulation has taken away so much worry, anxiety, and frustration for all of us," she says. "It has improved the life of every person in our family."

Tanya is back doing many of the things she couldn't do before, including activities with her family. "For someone who could do absolutely nothing before neurostimulation, being able to do even the most menial tasks has been amazing for me. I rely on this device."

During Tanya's screening test, her temporary device did not have the AdaptiveStim feature. Her implanted device, however, has this feature. "During the screening test I would lie down and the setting was too strong, and I'd turn it down. The cool thing about AdaptiveStim technology is that it automatically adjusts when I lie down. It's pretty neat. AdaptiveStim technology allows me to go about my day."

Tanya now takes one-third of the pain medications she was taking before getting her neurostimulator. Instead of a daily pain score that was at a 7, it is at a 4 or a 5. "For me, that's amazing. It's brought my pain level down so many notches."

Tanya has advice for anyone who is considering neurostimulation therapy. "If you are having the same feelings I was—wondering if you'll ever feel better or if there is anything else out there for pain relief—I hope my story will give you hope. This device has changed my life and my family's lives, too."

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