These stories reflect the experience of individuals who are receiving a Medtronic Chronic Pain Therapy for the treatment of severe chronic pain. Medtronic invited these people to share their story candidly. As you read them, please bear in mind that the experiences are specific to these particular individuals. Not everyone who receives spinal cord stimulation will receive the same results as the individuals in these stories. Talk with your doctor to determine if spinal cord stimulation is right for you.

Gary's Story

Gary was working as a painter in 2005. While lifting two 5-gallon buckets of paint one afternoon, he heard a pop.

An MRI showed two bulging discs and a slipped disc at L2-3, L3-4 and L4-5. Gary’s pain originated in his lower back, radiated to the legs, and caused numbness in his feet. He was unable to work.

No Relief in Sight

Gary's general practitioner referred him to three different back surgeons. All agreed that a fusion might resolve the injury, but none would perform the procedure given that Gary was only 53.

Gary was referred to a pain management specialist who prescribed physical therapy and medication. Unfortunately, physical therapy did not provide relief, and Vicodin® offered only temporary relief. Gary grew concerned that he was becoming addicted to the medication, and the side effects were problematic.

What Spinal Cord Stimulation Can Do

After exhausting other options, Gary's pain physician talked to him about spinal cord stimulation. He recommended a screening test to see if Gary would be a good candidate for the therapy.

During the screening test, two leads were placed in the lumbar area and two more at L10 and L11. When the device was turned on, Gary says he felt pain relief for the first time in 2 years.

Risks of Spinal Cord Stimulation 

While Gary didn't experience any complications with his surgery, some patients do experience problems. 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 side effects that have been associated with the therapy, refer to the Important Safety Information. Please talk with your doctor to fully understand the risks and benefits.

Big Improvements

Physically and mentally, Gary reports big improvements with spinal cord stimulation. Because his pain is better managed and he doesn't need to take as much pain medication, he has found his thinking to be more clear, he's not as short-tempered with his family, and he can drive again. He's even considering returning to work. Gary compares the stimulation sensation to a massage on his back. He says the device keeps his discomfort level to under a 4 on the pain scale.

For Gary, spinal cord stimulation has been an excellent alternative to back surgery at this point. It's eliminated his fear of drug dependency and the device has greatly restored his quality of life.

Vicodin is a registered trademark of Knoll Pharmaceutical Company Corporation.


This story reflects one person's experience. Not every person will receive the same results. Talk to your doctor about your treatment options.

Last updated: 16 Oct 2015

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