A GRANDMOTHER is now pain-free for the first time in 40 years after Southampton doctors carried out a world-first procedure to treat an affliction that has plagued her since she was a teenager.

Alison Cameron, 56, was struck down with chronic pain at the age of 17 after suffering from appendicitis.

Over the next four decades, the condition left her unable to eat or drink properly and she underwent dozens of procedures in a desperate attempt to be able to be pain free.

Now, following a pioneering operation at University Hospital Southampton to block the pain by stimulating the nerves in her spine using special implants, she has found her pain reduced '100 per cent' ' and she is now able to enjoy life to the full.

"When they turned on the devices and they all worked, I don't know who had the biggest grin on their face - them or me," Alison said of the procedure which took place last December.

Just five weeks later she was no longer having to take any painkillers.

"I can't quite believe it and I can't believe what they did to get everything sorted," she told the BBC.

"I still can't stop grinning. I'm going around with a permanent Cheshire cat grin on my face because I just cannot believe it.

"Because I was a 17-year-old, and now I'm a granny."

Alison's ordeal began almost 40 years ago at the age of 17 when she suffered nerve damage during an operation to remove her appendix.

"I had my appendix out and I remember I came round out of the anaesthetic screaming, the pain was something else," she said.

Over the next 30 years, she underwent more than 50 injections, known as cryoblocks, to freeze the pain, which she felt in her abdomen. Doctors said the number of procedures she required was 'unprecedented'.

However, none of them worked for more that six months and she had to take high doses of painkillers which left her unable to eat or drink and relying on a feeding tube for nutrition.

Mrs Cameron, from Northbourne in Bournemouth, said that compared to the pain she suffered on a regular basis "childbirth was like a breeze".

"No matter how bad things have been, I've always been able to find a positive at the end of the day. That isn't saying that I didn't have some very, very low moments," she said.

"I miscarried seven times – six of which were definitely down to the pain."

Divorced Mrs Cameron has two children - son Alex, 31, and daughter Grace, 29 – and three grand-daughters, a four year old and 20-month-old twins.

She says one of her greatest pleasures is now being able to hold her grandchildren properly.