Brandy’s Chronic Pain Story
Four years ago, Brandy, a technology manager for a school district, was diagnosed with Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS), a condition also referred to as Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy (RSD). The condition caused pain and hypersensitivity in her leg and foot. Brandy’s pain affected her not only physically, but emotionally as well. As a newlywed, she was so focused on her pain she couldn’t fully enjoy this happy time in her life. The slightest touch would ruin her entire night, so Brandy slept on the couch to avoid lying awake in pain and disturbing her husband’s sleep.
Brandy had been actively searching for treatment to relieve the pain ever since her diagnosis. She had two different neurostimulators implanted, and although they helped, neither provided complete pain relief. She also tried other chronic pain treatments outside of traditional neurostimulation.
Brandy learned about a new neurostimulation option called dorsal root ganglion (DRG) therapy. DRG uses electrical pulses to stimulate a cluster of nerve cells in the spinal column called the dorsal root ganglion(s), which directly correspond to the area of the body where the pain occurs. These nerves transmit information to the brain; stimulating them can target and relieve pain.
Before making a decision, Brandy asked her doctor about potential risks. DRG therapy requires surgery, which exposes patients to possible risks of complications such as infection, swelling, bruising or the loss of strength or use in an affected limb or muscle group (including paralysis). Additional risks such as undesirable changes in stimulation may occur over time. (For a complete list of possible complications associated with DRG therapy, refer to this important safety information.)
One of the benefits of the DRG neurostimulator system is that a patient can be fitted with a temporary device that works like an implanted system but can be easily removed. This gives physicians and their patients a chance to determine its effectiveness for their pain prior to undergoing an implant.
Brandy received her implant and was pleased with the results.
“Right now, I don’t have any pain, which is amazing—I haven’t been pain free in four years.” Brandy’s husband was nervous to touch her foot at first, but finally did after being convinced this was not a trick. “I’m sold on that,” he said, as he and Brandy celebrated finding relief from her pain. Brandy and her husband are excited to leave the troubles of chronic pain behind and now enjoy their life together.
If you think neurostimulation might be right for you, consult your doctor to discuss the risks and benefits. This story represents one patient’s experience with neurostimulation. While most patients experience at least some reduction in pain, the amount varies among individuals. The surgical placement and use of a neurostimulation system pose risks, which also vary by individual.