Robin’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.
Robin’s Spinal Cord Stimulation Story
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.