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Ron’s exposure to Agent Orange in Vietnam caused medical issues. To make matters worse, the pain from existing lumbar radiculitis gradually took hold of his foot, leg and lower back. “The pain was excruciating—a 15 on a scale of 1 to 10,” recalls Ron. “It was like fire when it hit, and it took me to my knees. I could only sleep two to three hours a night even though I was taking enough pain pills to kill a horse.”

SPINAL CORD STIMULATION—AN OPTION FOR BETTER PAIN RELIEF

During a pain management class at the Birmingham Veterans Administration (VA) Medical Center, another veteran told Ron about spinal cord stimulation (SCS), also known as neurostimulation therapy. SCS is delivered by a small neurostimulator, similar to a pacemaker. The neurostimulator is implanted under the skin and disrupts the pain signals traveling between the spinal cord and the brain.

Ron’s doctor suggested that he undergo a one-week SCS trial to experience the therapy before committing long term.“ When the stimulation was turned on, I felt immediate pain relief,” he recalls. “My pain went from 15 to 7 1/2. It was like being at a resort!”

Ron went on to receive long-term SCS therapy. He reduced the number of pain pills he was taking from seven a day to zero, and now speaks regularly in his community about SCS and the possibility of pain relief. Ron mentors other vets in five states and DC. “I see too many young vets succumb to addiction, and hear of too many suicides,” he says. “I want those guys to know there’s hope beyond all the pain and all the drugs.”

5RISKS OF SPINAL CORD STIMULATION THERAPY

“When I talk to groups about neurostimulation,” Ron explains, “I tell them, ‘Do your research. Neurostimulation isn’t for everyone. I can tell you how I feel, but I can’t guarantee how you’ll feel. It’s about managing pain, not totally getting rid of it.’”

Some patients do experience problems. Frequently reported problems following neurostimulation implant surgery include infection, lead movement, pain at the implant site, loss of therapy effect and therapy that did not meet the patient’s expectation. Please see the important safety information at the end of this story for more details. Remember to discuss the benefits and risks of this therapy and any treatment options with your doctor.

SAFE ACCESS TO MRI NOW AND IN THE FUTURE

“Because of my days in combat, every time I go to the hospital they find something else wrong with me,” Ron chuckles. “I have two to three MRIs a year.” He says he appreciates that he can have safe* access to full-body MRI scans without having to get his neurostimulator removed. Medtronic spinal cord stimulation systems with SureScan® MRI Technology are the only systems of their kind to relieve pain and allow for safe MRI scans on the hips, shoulders, chest, abdomen—and elsewhere. No other SCS system can offer that. {PP}

*UNDER SPECIFIC CONDITIONS.REQUIRES VECTRIS SURESCAN MRI IMPLANTABLE NEUROSTIMULATOR AND VECTRIS SURESCAN MRI LEADS. REFER TO APPROVED LABELING FOR FULL LIST OF CONDITIONS.