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This story reflects the experience of one individual who is receiving a Medtronic Pain Therapy for the treatment of chronic pain. Medtronic invited this person to share her story candidly. As you read it, please bear in mind that the experiences are specific to this particular individual. Not everyone who receives neurostimulation therapy will receive the same results as the individual in this story. Talk with your doctor to determine if neurostimulation therapy is right for you.

Melanie's Story

Melanie was diagnosed with degenerative spine disease and CRPS in 1996. One year later, she received a 2-level fusion operation on her neck and then had lower back surgery in 1998.

Unfortunately, scar tissue formed on her sciatic nerve, causing pain down her legs and into her feet. "I was fortunate because my neurosurgeon recommended I see a pain management physician right away after the scar tissue formed," Melanie says.

Melanie attempted to continue working, but was unsuccessful because she was simply worn out from the pain. Because of the pain medications she was using, Melanie suffered other setbacks as well. "I was depressed. I couldn't do anything, see people, or remember things," she says.

What Neurostimulation Can Do

After various failed pain interventions, Melanie was scheduled for a neurostimulation trial, also known as a screening test. "The trial was marvelous," Melanie says. "It was such a relief to not have the pain there."

After Melanie had the Medtronic Synergy® neurostimulator implanted, she was able to decrease her pain medications by over 50%. Her husband Bill was amazed.

"I came home and my wife was out cutting flowers," Bill recalls. "It was the first time I had seen her out doing anything in 4 years."

Risks of Neurostimulation 

Although Melanie did not experience any surgical complications, they are possible and may include infection, pain at the site of surgery and bleeding into the epidural space.

Once the neurostimulation system is implanted, device complications may occur and include corrective surgery, jolting, lead breaking, and movement of the lead within the epidural space which may require reprogramming or surgical replacement of the lead. These events may result in uncomfortable stimulation or loss of therapy.

Living with the Device

The Synergy is a nonrechargeable device. Melanie needed her neurostimulator on all day, every day. As a result, she went through several devices, each in about a year and a half. Given her high power needs, Melanie's pain management physician recommended the Restore® rechargeable neurostimulator.

"The original neurostimulator was able to cover my legs, but not my lower back," she says. "With the new rechargeable device, I have three programs that provide coverage for my legs and lower back. It's also a comfort to know that if I need them in the future, I can get additional programs for my back." 

After receiving her new rechargeable device, Melanie was able to further decrease her pain medications.

Melanie says that recharging is fairly easy. "I can either sit down or use the belt to stand up, do things, and walk around," she explains.

"I can't lift heavy things, but I can go outside and do things, enjoy myself," says Melanie. "I'm finally going to take an airplane trip to see my daughter in New York. I have my life back."

Melanie says her life has changed in other positive ways as well. "I'm no longer depressed," she says. "I can finally forget about the pain in my legs and lower back, which I could never do before. I feel like I have been given a huge gift."

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: 7 Feb 2011

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