Kim’s Chronic Pain Story
Kim considered herself a “professional volunteer” in her retirement. Whether she was giving her time at the nursing home or church, playing golf, swimming, oil painting, or gardening, Kim was “constantly doing something.” But things changed for her in January 2003 when she felt an unusual pain in her back while playing golf. A former hospital administrator and nurse, Kim self-medicated at first until she realized what she felt was more than a minor pain. Though she knew it wasn’t possible, she says, “When I walked, it felt like things would fall apart.”
After a while, Kim found her mobility extremely limited to the extent that she could no longer do her usual tasks and activities. She found driving her car uncomfortable and relied instead on a wheelchair or four-wheel walker during outings. To make matters worse, she could sleep for no more than a few hours at a time at night. After several back surgeries, the pain she felt spread to her back and her lower buttocks and leg.
Running out of options, reluctant to have another surgery, and frustrated with taking pain medications, Kim talked with her family doctor who mentioned the possibility of using neurostimulation to manage her pain. Her doctor explained the possible benefits of neurostimulation as well as the risks. (Risks associated with the procedure and/or use of a neurostimulation system include infection, swelling, bruising, undesirable changes in stimulation, and the loss of strength or use in an affected limb or muscle group (e.g., paralysis). For a complete list of possible complications associated with neurostimulation, refer to the Important Safety Information page and talk to your doctor.) After hearing about neurostimulation, she was immediately interested and told her doctor she was ready to have the surgery “tomorrow.”
Kim says that while it did take time to get used to having an implanted system, she was soon back to her busy schedule and doing things she hadn’t been able to do for years. She even asked her doctor if she could return to golf. He told her that certain activities can cause the leads to move, which can cause a reduction in pain relief. He also recommended that she give her body time to heal. Kim followed her doctor’s advice and waited six months before trying the sport. She says, “I can’t do everything I could before, but just being on a golf course has given me a sense of freedom from my pain.”
Kim wants people who suffer from chronic pain to know there is an alternative treatment available. “You don’t have to live with chronic pain. For me, neurostimulation is a better option than taking drugs. It’s worth a chance.”
Consult your doctor to discuss the risks and benefits of neurostimulation and determine if this therapy is right for you. The story above explains the experiences of an individual who has received a neurostimulation system to manage chronic pain of the trunk and/or limbs. These results with neurostimulation are specific to this individual. While most patients experience at least some reduction in pain, the amount of pain relief that individuals experience varies. The surgical placement and use of a neurostimulation system pose risks, the occurrence of which also varies by individual.