It was a quick decline.
In less than a year, Connie Hanafy went from hiking and rollerskating with her daughters to hardly being able to walk. She had a benign tumor removed from her right leg in January 2017. For months after, she felt pain that didn't make sense. It wasn't typical post-procedure aches. It was a sharp, stabbing, throbbing and crushing feeling rolled up into one.
"Before all of this happened, I was an extremely active person. I would hike all the time and was always doing things with my children," Hanafy said. "I was always outside and very outdoorsy. When this happened, it was a huge setback."
The 32-year-old hospice worker from New Jersey was diagnosed with complex regional pain syndrome, a chronic condition that can develop after an injury or surgery. She tried treatments like steroid injections, nerve blocks and physical therapy, but the pain continued to worsen. Her only other option was opioid pain pills, but she refused to take them and risk slipping into addiction.
By November, she just wanted her leg amputated. Dr. Youssef Josephson of The Pain Management Center in New Jersey suggested she try Intellis, a spinal cord stimulator. The device emits electrical pulses to help treat pain.
The Food and Drug Administration had approved Intellis only a few months earlier. It's the latest system from Medtronic, the company that created the spinal cord stimulation market. It's one the medical device maker hopes will better help more patients — and turn its performance in the category. Once the market leader, Medtronic ceded ground to rivals, just as the opioid epidemic was putting more focus on alternative ways to treat pain.