NEUROMODULATION
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CARING FOR SOMEONE WITH CHRONIC PAIN

HOW TO SUPPORT their SEARCH FOR LAStING RELIEF  

TOGETHER, YOU CAN CREATE A FULLER LIFE

Chronic pain can be a life-changing burden. It can be a frustrating condition with causes and that are hard to identify and symptoms that are hard to describe. But it creates many clear day-to-day challenges for both the person experiencing chronic pain, their caregivers, and their loved ones.

Fortunately, pain relief is possible. So is making a caregiving plan that helps you both get the support, encouragement, and inspiration you need. And there are many different treatments that can help relieve your loved one’s daily pain, including effective relief with neurostimulation. Here are a few helpful steps you can take as you plan to care for a loved one with chronic pain – including some important steps to take when it’s time to consider a neurostimulator.

CAREGIVING FOR CHRONIC PAIN

When you’re a caregiver for someone with chronic pain, their condition can take a toll on both of you in many ways. You both face the daily challenge of living with the physical and emotional burden of with severe pain.

You’ll both share a long journey together: Here are some important steps the two of you can take together to manage the emotional, physical, and financial challenges of chronic pain.

ICON OF A HAND SUPPORTING A PATIENT

PHYSICAL SUPPORT

Chronic pain often starts with changes in the body and the way it moves and functions. Injuries, surgeries, the loss of a limb – common causes of chronic pain are often events that leave your loved one with lasting physical changes.

Those changes may limit your loved one’s ability to work, to take part in favorite activities, or simply help around the house. As a caregiver, you may find yourself adjusting to new and different household tasks, chores, and other daily manual responsibilities. So how can you help?

Be understanding. Your loved one’s new limitations can mean adjustment to both your daily routines and what you expect from each other day to day. Let them know you are on their side and that they can rely on you to be there with them every step of the way.

ICON OF HANDS SUPPORTING A PATIENT

EMOTIONAL SUPPORT

Physical changes often come with an emotional impact – changes in the way your loved one thinks of him or herself. Chronic pain keeps people from familiar activities, limits how they can be part of their daily lives, and can take away your loved one’s sense of identity and purpose. Not surprisingly, people with chronic pain often struggle with frustration, depression, and loneliness. And that can mean emotional challenges for the caregiver too.

  • Be patient. As a caregiver, you may have to help your loved one manage many of the negative emotions that come from living with chronic pain. Your loved one may need you to be a listening ear for many of their daily challenges.
  • Offer support–and ask for it, too. Listen, understand, and give your loved one support and encouragement. But remember that caregivers need all those things too. Learn more about caring for yourself >

TRACKING THEIR TREATMENT

Another important way you can help support your loved one is by helping them manage their treatment.

People with chronic pain often try many different approaches to managing their symptoms. When they change treatments, you can help your loved one adapt to different schedules and doses. And when other treatments don’t work well enough, or cause side effects your loved one can’t tolerate, you can help them decide when they may need to try a surgical treatment like neurostimulation.

Learn more about how you can help your loved one stay on top of their changing treatment for chronic pain >

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TRACKING THEIR TREATMENT

Each person’s experience of chronic pain is unique, as are treatment plans. Your loved one’s treatments may change as time passes because of options available to them, how they respond to recommended treatments, and their changing needs and symptoms.

As a caregiver, it is important for you to understand your loved one’s experiences and be an advocate with doctors and care teams. Your perspective will be valuable in deciding when it’s time to think about different treatment options.

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KNOW THEIR TREATMENT SCHEDULE

Help your loved one make sure to take the right treatments, in the right amount, at the right time. Doing so can help you both: Using each treatment exactly as prescribed can help ensure your loved one gets the most relief possible, and potentially make your caregiving role easier too.

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KNOW THEIR TREATMENT HISTORY

Make sure to keep track of your loved one’s treatments, including the results and any side effects. By understanding your loved one’s prior therapies – what has worked and what hasn’t, as well as what medications they rely on – you’ll get a sense of what’s working, what hasn’t, and when more intensive treatment options may make sense.

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KNOW WHEN THEY NEED A DIFFERENT KIND OF TREATMENT

If other treatments don’t work, you and your loved one may want to consider neurostimulation. Neurostimulation – also called spinal column stimulation – is a surgical treatment for chronic pain that uses an implanted device to deliver low-level electrical signals to the brain or spinal cord to help relieve pain symptoms.

Keep reading to learn what caregivers need to know when your loved one may need neurostimulation >

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While there are many available therapies for chronic pain, everyone responds to them differently. Your loved one may get more relief from one treatment than another. But when other treatments don’t work or cause intolerable side effects, pain relief is possible with a surgical treatment called spinal column stimulation, or neurostimulation. 

Neurostimulation therapy works by using an implanted device to send mild electrical pulses to the spine to alter pain signals as they travel to the brain. Abbott offer two kinds of neurostimulation for people with different kinds of chronic pain:

  • BurstDR™ Stimulation1, a revolutionary new form of neurostimulation for people whose pain is broadly spread in the trunk and/or limbs 
  • DRG therapy2, targeted neurostimulation for people with a type of difficult-to-treat isolated chronic pain, such as complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) or causalgia  

If your loved one’s pain specialist has recommended neurostimulation, here are some important things to know as you both consider this effective surgical therapy.

ICON OF A NEUROSTIMULATOR

THERE’S A TRY-OUT FIRST

Committing to an implanted therapy can be a big step for both of you. Fortunately, with an Abbott neurostimulator, your loved one can try out a temporary neurostimulator for a defined period to see if the therapy provides the relief they need.


Learn more about what’s involved in trying out a temporary neurostimulator >

ICON OF A DOCTOR

THERE’S AN IMPORTANT PRE-EXAM

When you and your loved one are considering neurostimulation, your loved one’s doctor might refer them to a psychologist who specializes in chronic pain. This is a normal, common step before someone receives neurostimulation. It’s also very important to ensure that your insurance will cover the treatment.

This evaluation usually lasts about an hour and will help make sure your loved one is mentally ready for the procedure. Learn more about why the neurostimulation pre-exam is important >

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THERE ARE IMPORTANT THINGS THAT CAREGIVERS SHOULD EXPECT

If you and your loved one have decided to move ahead to an implanted neurostimulator, you can play an important role by helping your loved one prepare. Here’s what you can both expect:

The evalution period. During the defined evaluation period, your loved one will be able to perform most of their usual activities, with some exceptions such as bending, twisting their torso, or lifting objects that weigh more than five pounds or 2 kilos. Their doctor will let them know what activities are okay and what they should avoid. Learn more >

The implant procedure. The surgical procedure is minimally invasive – your loved one can even go home the same day. Within a few days, the two of you should find that the permanent system will begin working just as it did during the trial. Learn more >

The recovery period. The weeks following the procedure can be both exciting and a period of adjustment. As a caregiver, you should keep careful track of instructions about how to care for the incisions, what activities to avoid, and how to maintain and use the system to better manage pain. As with any surgical procedure, it takes time to heal – recovery usually lasts about six to eight weeks. Learn more >

As the period of adjustment gives way to everyday life, you and your loved one will discover the ways that neurostimulation provides relief for chronic pain – so the two of you can get back to living life to its fullest.


GET BACK TO LIVING YOUR FULLEST LIFE TOGETHER

Receiving an implanted neurostimulator for chronic pain can be a big step toward getting your loved one back to a more normal life again. But living with a neurostimulator can take some adjustment for both of you, and over time you may find you need more support for both your loved one and yourself. Don’t wait to reach out for the help you need – and let Abbott help you find it.

Learn more about how and when to look for family, community, and professional support for your loved one >

Learn more about understanding and finding the support you need for your own well-being >

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MORE CHRONIC PAIN RESOURCES

Find more helpful information about caring for someone with chronic pain, as well as inspiring stories from others who’ve shared your experience.

References:

1. Deer T., Slavin K.V., Amirdelfan K., North R.B., Burton A.W., Yearwood T.L., Tavel E., Staats P., Falowski S., Pope J., Justiz R., Fabi A.Y., Taghva A., Paicius R., Houden T., Wilson D. 2017. Success Using Neuromodulation With BURST (SUNBURST) Study: Results From a Prospective, Randomized Controlled Trial Using a Novel Burst Waveform. Neuromodulation 2017; E-pub ahead of print. DOI:10.1111/ner.12698

2. Deer TR, Levy RM, Kramer J, et al. Dorsal root ganglion stimulation yielded higher treatment success rate for complex regional pain syndrome and causalgia at 3 and 12 months: a randomized comparative trial. Pain. 2017; 158(4):669-681. (n=152)

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