Marty's Spinal Cord Stimulation StoryHear 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. "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!"