Steve McGee was born with clubfoot and an extra bone in his left foot. Clubfoot is a deformity that causes the foot to turn inward. Typically, infants with clubfoot can be treated with braces, but due to the extra bone, Steve was unable to use braces. Before the age of eight, Steve had eight different surgeries on his left foot and ankle to straighten the joint. Although he had limited side-to-side motion, Steve did not have any pain for 45 years.
At the beginning of 2010, Steve started to experience pain in his left ankle and foot. The cartilage between his talus and tibia, which make up the ankle joint, had deteriorated so severely that the bones were grinding on one another. It hurt to walk, and the only manageable way for him to get around was by limping. To alleviate the pain, Steve tried a walking boot and pain medication, but nothing successfully alleviated his pain.
By the summer of 2010, the pain was so severe that Steve decided to have fusion ankle surgery. Fusion ankle surgery eliminates motion in the ankle joint and reduces arthritic pain. After the surgery, he was still experiencing pain in his foot and ankle, but expected that the pain would subside once the winter was over. After suffering in pain for six months, he visited his podiatrist and asked for a pain management specialist recommendation.
Steve had been diagnosed with sympathetic nerve pain, which is also known as complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS). CRPS affects the way the central nervous system and the peripheral nervous system send pain signals from the brain and spinal cord to the rest of the body. Before seeing Dr. Phillips, Steve saw three other pain management specialists who all failed to provide relief. In 2013, he was referred to Dr. Phillips. “Dr. Phillips is by far the best pain management specialist,” said Steve. “I had completely given up on myself and Dr. Phillips had not.”
Initially, they tried medication management, which did not work. At that time, traditional spinal cord stimulators were the only stimulators available. A traditional spinal cord stimulator uses low voltage stimulation of the spinal nerves to block the feeling of pain. In Steve’s case, this treatment did not provide relief. Dr. Phillips was able to help Steve find relief through medication. “I was finally able to get some relief from the medication that Dr. Phillips put me on,” said Steve.
Due to a change in insurance, Steve’s medication coverage changed, and he was unable to use the medication that Dr. Phillips prescribed. The new medication did not give Steve relief. His pain became so unbearable that, at the beginning of 2016, Steve told his wife that he was ready to cut his foot off. His wife told him that he could not do it until after May 7, 2016, the day his daughter got married.
“Dr. Phillips never gave up on me,” said Steve. In the summer of 2016, Dr. Phillips proposed the the new Abbott Dorsal Root Ganglion (DRG) Stimulation System. The Abbott DRG Stimulator System differs from traditional spinal cord stimulators in that it allows physicians to treat the specific area that the pain is occurring. “I was the third patient to receive the Abbott DRG Stimulation System. The trial was difficult because of a bone deformity in my spine but after the trial, the stimulator was implanted at my left L4 and L5 dorsal root ganglion.”
“The Abbott DRG Stimulation System has given me so much relief,” said Steve. I can move the stimulation up and down my leg. Before this procedure I would have constant pain with a sock and shoe on. Now, I have little to no pain. I would say that I am 80% pain free.”
“For people who are suffering from chronic pain, I would tell them to stay current with technology and the latest procedures,” said Steve. “Dr. Phillips stays on top of all of the latest technology which is very important for the best possible care. Dr. Phillips can give you hope that you did not think you had. I would recommend Dr. Phillips to anyone.”
While clinical studies support the effectiveness of these procedures, individual results may vary. There are no guarantees of outcome. All surgeries involve the risk of major complications. Before you decide on surgery, discuss treatment options with your doctor. Understanding the risks of each treatment can help you make the best decision for your individual situation. Always ask your doctor about all treatment options, as well as their risks and benefits. Only your doctor can determine the appropriate treatment for your situation. The clinical information and opinions, including any inaccuracies expressed in this material by patients or doctor are not necessarily those of OPTIMAL Pain & Regenerative Medicine and should not be considered as substitute for medical advice provided by your doctor.