People Painting

Melanie's Story

Chronic Pain

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.

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 Spinal Cord Stimulation Can Do

After various failed pain interventions, Melanie was scheduled for a 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 Spinal Cord Stimulation  

While Melanie didn't experience any complications with her 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.

Living with the 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 a 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."

Information on this site should not be used as a substitute for talking with your doctor. Always talk with your doctor about diagnosis and treatment information.