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When neurologists get together the conversation often drifts to unusual cases. But individual cases are seldom written up any longer, although there are reasons to do so. One, says Monk,1 is to report the “curiosities which we will never encounter in our every day practice, but which are so remarkable that they make a delightful interlude in our heavier reading.” Such is the case of the farmer with neuropathic pain and his therapeutic use of a cow fence.
In 1978 a neurosurgical colleague asked if I would see a man who had longstanding chronic pain in his leg. He thought the man would interest me as at the time I was carrying out a project on phantom pain, studying whether the pain and the phantom after amputation would change with varying forms of electrical stimulation. He explained that the man didn’t have an amputation but he did use an interesting form of electrical therapy for leg pain.
The man was a very pleasant 69-year-old farmer who had been wounded in his right lower leg and ankle by a mortar shell when serving as a Canadian infantryman in Italy in 1944. He lost a lot of blood from his open wounds and was transported on an open flatbed truck 45 miles behind the lines to a field hospital where the wounds were closed and the leg put in a …