Jaclyn's Spinal Cord Stimulation StoryWhile cheerleading in 2000, Jaclyn landed awkwardly and broke her ankle. The ankle healed, but chronic pain in the ankle and lower leg remained. It limited her ability to walk, interact with others, and sleep.
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.
Jaclyn's Spinal Cord Stimulation Story
While cheerleading in 2000, Jaclyn landed awkwardly and broke her ankle. The ankle healed, but chronic pain in the ankle and lower leg remained. It limited her ability to walk, interact with others, and sleep.
An unbearable level of pain
Jaclyn's primary care physician tried a variety of treatments for the pain. Unfortunately, oral medications did not significantly reduce the pain and made her nauseated. Physical therapy provided only temporary relief.
"The pain escalated to an unbearable level," says Jaclyn. "My leg swelled, ached, and felt like it was on fire. Both my ankle and leg were sensitive to touch. Water, heat, cold—even a breeze—caused pain."
Discovering neurostimulation therapy
After a year with pain, Jaclyn's primary care physician referred her to a pain management physician. She was diagnosed with complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS). Her physician thought the pain might respond to neurostimulation therapy from Medtronic. To see if it could help control Jaclyn's pain, she underwent a screening test.
"During the screening test, I felt a comforting and soothing tingling sensation in place of the pain," Jaclyn recalls. "This confirmed for my doctor that I was a candidate for the therapy." And in November 2002, Jaclyn decided to go ahead with Medtronic neurostimulation therapy.
Risks of neurostimulation therapy
Jaclyn 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
When Jaclyn first saw the pain management physician, she was losing weight, wasn't eating, and had problems sleeping. Looking back, Jaclyn wonders if she could have avoided those complications had she tried the neurostimulation therapy sooner.
Today, Jaclyn's back to living a full life. Since receiving neurostimulation therapy, she reports that the therapy relieves 90% of her pain.
"Currently, I'm in my junior year of college and I'm studying to be a nurse," she says. "I am able to sleep, hike, bike, and walk my dog. I couldn't live a normal life without my neurostimulation system."