A client of BLB Solicitors suffering from Complex Regional Pain Syndrome Type 1 (“CRPS”), which is also known as Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy (“RSD”) has recently undergone surgery to implant a spinal cord stimulator.
Our client developed CRPS in his left leg after suffering sprained ligaments in his ankle following a fall at work. After the usual treatments for his condition failed to improve his symptoms, we helped to arrange a referral to Dr Adnan Al-Kaisy, a Consultant in Pain Medicine at Guy’s and St Thomas’ Hospital and the London Bridge Hospital, and one of the foremost experts in this country in spinal cord stimulation.
The procedure is an invasive one and involves the insertion of electrodes into the epidural space in the spine. The electrodes are connected to a pulse generator which delivers pulsed electrical signals to the spinal cord which has the effect of blocking the pain signals to the brain.
The pulse generator is initially an external one, whilst the patient is assessed for their suitability, but if they prove suitable then a smaller pulse generator is inserted under the skin, usually in the buttock or abdomen. The device is controlled remotely from an external control unit.
Our client reported being pain free as soon as the trial stimulator was switch on. He described the results as “absolutely amazing” and reported being free of pain for the first time in two years. Dr Al-Kaisy was pleased with the trial and performed the permanent procedure a little over a week later.
The main obstacle to patients is, however, the cost. The total cost of the trial and permant procedure is around £25,000.
Whilst the Defendant’s insurance company were initially hostile to funding the procedure, we were able to pursuade them that in fact the procedure made perfect commercial sense, particularly in terms of getting our client back to work.
It should be stressed however that not everybody is suitable for the procedure and there are sometimes, as with all invasive procedures, complications and side effects. As for our client though, he is hopeful of returning to work within the next few weeks.