In 1991, Dick was lifting a 75-pound bag of gravel at work when he heard several pops in his lower back. His discs between L2-3, L3-4, and L4-5 had ruptured and his vertebrae were compressed.
Unfortunately, co-workers moved Dick following his injury, which compromised his spinal cord and nerve roots, resulting in paraplegia. After decompression and discotomy surgeries, Dick was eventually able to walk again.
Although Dick seemed to be on the mend, in 1992 his legs gave way while descending a flight of stairs. He injured his back again, this time on the opposite side. Another surgery was performed to decompress the nerve roots and remove bone from his spinal cord.
Despite the surgery, Dick experienced intense, crushing lower back pain that radiated into his legs. The pain caused him to grit and break his teeth, eventually leading to dentures.
Dick's doctor prescribed Vicodin® and oral morphine for Dick's chronic pain. But the medications were only mildly effective and caused him to feel drowsy.
After 7 years of ineffective drug treatment, Dick was referred to a pain management specialist who recommended a drug pump (intrathecal drug delivery). A screening test confirmed that Dick was a candidate, and a Medtronic pump was surgically placed in 1999.
Dick didn't experience any surgical complications in 1999, nor did he experience complications when he had his pump replaced in 2005. Surgical complications can include spinal headache, infection, or anaesthesia complications.
Post-implant complications may include an inverted pump, catheter issues like leaking, dislodgement, or kinking, or drug-related side effects. In fact, Dick's pump did invert once after the first implant, but his physician was able to reposition it without surgery.
Dick reports that intrathecal drug delivery has allowed him to return to work part-time as an instructor in pet care and computer services. He's able to take care of his home once more and he feels hope in his life again.
"What Medtronic did for my chronic pain is wonderful," Dick says. His only regret is that he did not have the procedure performed sooner.
Vicodin is a registered trademark of Knoll Pharmaceutical Company Corporation.
This story reflects one person's experience. Not every person will receive the same results. Talk to your doctor about your treatment options.