Sally’s Chronic Pain Story

Sally’s Chronic Pain Story

Sally is ready to take on the world—the Taekwondo World Championship, that is. Not only is this amazingly athletic 69-year-old already a fourth-degree black belt, but she has competed and won her fourth world championship title in “forms”—individual, choreographed routines that demonstrate proper movement and technique. While this is an impressive accomplishment for anyone, Sally’s story is even more remarkable considering that eight years ago she couldn’t even walk.

Sally was diagnosed with spinal stenosis and three bulging discs, a condition that gave her severe pain in her back and lower leg. Her pain worsened, leaving Sally feeling nauseated and unable to walk without assistance. Accustomed to an active lifestyle, Sally discovered she could not go up or down steps, much less continue her favorite activity—martial arts.

Sally was willing to try anything that would relieve her pain and let her get back to training, so her doctor gave her injections in her lower back. Unfortunately, Sally had a bad reaction to this treatment, and she still could not walk, drive, or work. Eventually, her doctor suggested an option called spinal cord stimulation (SCS). 

SCS uses a device called a spinal cord stimulator. Sometimes called a “pacemaker for pain,” this device sends mild pulses to the spinal cord to interrupt pain signals that travel to the brain. However, SCS is also associated with 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 this important safety information.)

Despite the risks, Sally decided to try SCS. Not only did a St. Jude Medical™ neurostimulator alleviate her pain, but she was also able to return to martial arts with renewed enthusiasm. She has won world, national and state competitions in individual forms, and she instructs students at her taekwondo school in Florida. 

To her fellow sufferers considering SCS, Sally says, “They shouldn’t be afraid to do it. For me, it’s made a big difference.”

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.