Rebecca’s Chronic Pain Story
Rebecca is a homemaker, wife of an active military member and mother of a 9-year-old and 4-year-old. She had been treated for chronic pain in her left knee for 10 years. The pain caused her to miss out on activities she enjoyed such as hiking, exercising and playing with her kids. Rebecca felt her life revolving around her chronic pain.
Rebecca also dreamed of pursuing a career in nursing, but knew that was impossible with her pain. “[Chronic pain] puts a halt on all of your plans,” she said.
Determined to find relief, she had undergone years of various treatments for her CRPS of the lower limbs. Her physical therapy left her feeling sore on top of the existing pain. She tried pain medications but worried about the health risks. She also tried epidurals, nerve blockers and traditional neurostimulation, but none provided adequate relief. Her family worried, while she wondered if she’d ever be pain free.
Then Rebecca heard about DRG therapy, a new form of neurostimulation that uses electrical pulses to stimulate a cluster of nerve cells in the spinal column called the dorsal root ganglion(s). These directly correspond to the area of the body where the pain occurs; stimulating them sends signals to the brain that can bring targeted pain relief. Rebecca admits this therapy seemed intimidating at first. But she hoped it would provide the relief she had been searching for.
Before having the procedure, she discussed the risks and benefits with her doctor. DRG therapy requires surgery, which exposes patients to certain risks. Complications such as infection, swelling, bruising and possibly the loss of strength or use in an affected limb or muscle group are possible. 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 you can try it out first and make sure DRG therapy works for you. Rebecca was fitted with a temporary device, which works like an implanted system but can be easily removed, to determine the therapy’s effectiveness for her pain. Rebecca received 80 percent pain relief with the temporary DRG system.
She decided to receive a permanent implant. Since then, she has experienced almost 100 percent relief from her pain.
“It is amazing; it took away more than I expected it to.” She reflects on what her life would have been like if she had this device five or ten years ago, and is happy that she finally found something that worked for her. Now, Rebecca can go for daily walks, keep up with her kids and return to school to pursue that nursing career. “It was definitely worth it,” she says.
Consult your doctor to discuss the risks and benefits of neurostimulation to determine if this therapy may be right for you. This story explains the experiences of one individual, and the results are not the same for everyone. While most patients experience at least some reduction in pain, the amount varies among individuals. Risks involved in the surgical placement and use of a neurostimulation system also vary by individual.