Kerry Costi, a 46-year-old woman from Bishops Stortford in Herts, first became aware of her symptoms 10 to 11 years ago when she began suffering from recurrent painful sciatica attacks, sometimes lasting from between seven and 10 days. During these attacks Kerry was left unable to walk.
The first attack Kerry suffered came completely out of the blue, but over time they increased in frequency and more painful. There was no specific activity that would cause the painful attacks to flare up, which made it difficult to cope with. Kerry found there was nothing she could do to prevent the attacks so lived in fear of them happening at random.
At a visit to her then GP, Kerry was initially prescribed pain-killers, anti- inflammatorys and bed rest. Kerry was also referred to an osteopath.
Kerry then underwent disc replacement surgery and disc fusion, but had considerable residual back pain with on-going intractable sciatica. In consultation with her spinal surgeon, she was recommended to Dr Mehta, Consultant in Pain Medicine, who started Kerry on the path towards the Spinal Cord Stimulator. Dr Mehta and Kerry discussed her issues and began the first phase of a two stage plan, culminating in the Spinal Cord Stimulation.
Dr Mehta explains “Kerry presented with distinct neuropathic (nerve related) pain in her legs commonly known as sciatica. This had not responded to surgery and was not amenable to medications. She was on strong opioids (morphine like medications) and other nerve modulating painkillers in very high doses. These medications were having significant side effects limiting Kerry’s functionality and quality of life. We offered her Spinal Cord Stimulation, but were keen to cover both her back and leg symptoms. Spinal Cord Stimulation has been recommended by the NICE guidelines in UK for patients with neuropathic pain who have not responded to simple treatments.(NICE Guideline 159)”
“The procedure is done to improve functionality and manage the pain. It is very important to have realistic expectations as with any surgery. Kerry was counselled and we identified that she would be keen to reduce her opioids and other painkillers with the help of the procedure. She was keen to improve her function and quality of life. We set up with these realistic goals while planning for this.”
Although Spinal Cord Stimulation has been available for a while now, new advances over the last few years have resulted in this technique being performed percutaneously (through needles) and a very small incision for a pocket for the implant. With the advent of rechargeable systems there is the potential, in the right cases, to avoid frequent replacement surgeries and complications that may arise from repeated surgeries.
The Precision™ Spectra Spinal Cord Stimulator system is the world’s first rechargeable spinal cord stimulator with 32 contact points and 32 dedicated power sources. It incorporates illumina 3D software, the first and only software to take into account the complex 3-dimensional environment. The algorithm incorporates 3-dimensional lead location and creates a customised stimulation field designed to improve pain targeting.
Kerry says “For the first time I felt that I was being taken seriously and that someone understood the pain I was in.”
Kerry underwent successful implantation of the system. She was one of the very first few patients to undergo this particular new technology implant in UK and the first in private sector to have benefitted from this three dimension technology. The implant helped to reduce her pain considerably and come off her opioids which were impairing her function.
Kerry says “After the operation I was very optimistic and finally felt that I had some control over my pain. The real possibility of coming off some of the pain medication that has blighted my life was amazing. This operation has given me real hope”.
Kerry has some wise words for people who are suffering the same symptoms and constant painful disruption to their life as she did.
“I have been lucky, my private healthcare provider supported spinal cord stimulation. This procedure is not a miracle cure but it allowed me to take some control over my pain instead of the pain taking control over me. I recommend the treatment as a better option than constantly being on medication.
You can be referred by your GP to Dr Vivek Mehta, Consultant in Pain Medicine at Spire Roding Hospital for further Consultation and advice: Spire Roding Appointments 020 8709 7878 or visit www.spireroding.com. The patient would be assessed by a multidisciplinary team as per the NICE guidelines and if found suitable then would be recommended this treatment.