A former A&E sister who has suffered from chronic pain in her legs and arm every day for ten years says a new spinal cord stimulator means she no longer feels like she has multiple sclerosis (MS).
Jo Mohan, 51, from Coulby Newham, was one of the first patients in the UK and Europe to be fitted with Medtronic’s new Inceptiv spinal cord stimulator at the Friarage Hospital in Northallerton.
Inceptiv is a tiny surgically implanted device which has two wires inserted in the spine, close to the nerves responsible for carrying pain signals.
It sends low levels of electricity directly into the spinal cord to disrupt pain signals before they reach the brain.
Although South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust has been offering implantable devices for pain management at its hospitals for patients who suffer from back pain for some time, this is the first time a device has been fitted that is able to deliver multiple waveforms and can detect signals from the spinal cord and automatically adjust the strength of the impulses accordingly.
When it senses the patient’s movement, such as when they cough, sneeze, strain, or bend over it automatically adjusts itself to avoid painful shocks and improve pain relief.
Despite taking medication and trying a variety of treatments, Jo’s chronic pain caused by her MS has intensified over the last decade.
“Over the years my kids have had to help a lot and I couldn’t look after my grandchildren as much as I wanted”, she said.
“I’ve had neurophysiotherapy, have been shown exercises to do at home, have had massages and took medication but nothing helped.”
Knowing that Jo was suitable for the innovative spinal cord stimulator, Ashish Gulve, clinical lead and consultant in pain medicine, offered her the chance to be one of the very first patients to be fitted with the Inceptiv™ device.
“Dr Gulve asked if I wanted to give it a try and I didn’t hesitate to agree,” she added.
Jo, who says she didn’t have very high expectations for the device after suffering from pain for such a long time, was taken into theatre at 3pm and discharged home the same day.
A couple of weeks later, after her wound had healed, the device was turned on and her life changed.
“It couldn’t have gone any better, it’s changed my life,” she said.
“I’m shocked that it’s worked, I’ve gone from constant pain to nothing – I don’t even feel like I’ve got MS anymore. Thanks to the device my symptoms have settled down, yes, they still flare up now and then, but I’m in no pain.”
Since November, Dr Gulve and his colleagues have fitted 19 Inceptiv devices.
He said: “It was a privilege to be the first NHS trust in the UK to offer this new state-of-the-art spinal cord stimulator for our patients who suffer from back pain.
“It’s great to hear that Jo has had such a positive outcome from the procedure, like many others.
“It’s evident from their feedback just how life-changing this procedure can be due to its closed-loop feature that listens to signals along the spinal cord and adjusts stimulation moment to moment to maintain consistent therapy during all patient activities.”