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Surgery VS Spinal cord stim.

ellineellin Posts: 188
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:29 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
Ok can't sit to write to much so, here it goes. I am to start the process of getting the s.c.s on the 17th of April just had my last visit with my Dr.PM who has done injections and the RF"S which is all he does. He told me that I can have a test done to see where the pain is coming and than have the surgery or go the way I am starting too which is the scs so Why would a person get surgery rather than the spinal cord stim??? And if the RF"S do not work how is the spinal cord stim. going to work I don't know to much about them until the appt. to talk about them with the DR. and what I read here. I thought it goes to the nerves??


  • is the main question. How stable is your spine? Are you at risk for having further damage if your spine is not stabilized, either with instrumentation or with bone inserts to hold your disc spaces open? If you're stable and you don't mind having a pacemaker-like device in your butt, then go for the SCS. I just didn't want one more thing I'd lose the remote to.


    3 level spinal fusion, L3/4, L4/5, L5/S1, November 2008. Stiff, but I can walk.
  • spine is stable for all I know. Never was told it was not. I like that remote reply. I had to laugh. I needed that.
  • An SCS is ONLY a pain management device, not a FIX. So if there is an issue with your spine that can be fixed, you'll find most people will take that option. An SCS is an awesome device, but is also a restricting device. If surgery can free you up to hands free normal living, then stay away from the SCS.

    PM docs will offer an SCS because it's one of the great tools in their arsenal. However, if your problem can be dealt with in another way you might want to look at ALL of your options.

  • I was always told that the SCS was pretty much the end of the line, when you were out of other options...when the patient is not a candidate for surgery or surgery has been done and has not alleviated the pain, and the pain cannot be controlled with meds.
  • Well, The nuro Dr. told me years ago when I lost feeling in my left leg that I need surgery. I now years later go to Mayo and this nurosurgon tells me that I am not a surgery canidate due to all my arth. I am confused as to the one Dr. saying one thing and the other telling me no. My PM Dr. who is so limited told me this yesterday. I have lots of things on my MRI and we do not know what is causing the pain he says I can get a test which is ruff to see where the pain is coming from. Even if I have hern. disc that might not be what is causing the pain. Than he says I can either have surgery or the s.c.s I am sure he could direct me to a surgon who could perform this. He tells me the sucess rate is now about 30% when I saw the Dr. at Mayo he told me 50% All I know is that I want whatever can help me. I can't go on like this I am a nasty person to be around due to the pain this is not me. Maybe I should get that test done just to see where the pain is really coming from Because their is so much wrong with my back and neck according to the MRI 5 disc hern. lower back 3 in neck spondie, stenosis, DJD on it goes. Thanks for your feedback
  • I would suggest that the SCS come last. Even if the test you require is painful, would you not feel better knowing that you had done it and there are no other options except the SCS? I would.

    I just completed my SCS trial on Thursday March 19 and am waiting insurance approval for the permanent version.

    I will say that if you decide to try an SCS first the trial itself is not that bad of a procedure. If you go down into the treatment section or under depression and look for SCS you will see a lot of postings on what a trial entails, what some of us have experienced during and after trials etc,

  • Hi Ellin ~
    I think I recall from seeing one of your posts that you are in Minnesota?? If so, I would suggest you seek out another opinion from one of the spinal specialists in the Twin Cities. There are three world-renowned spinal clinics. I think it would be helpful to get another up-to-date opinion about whether you are a candidate for surgery, or not.

    I know the Mayo Clinic is outstanding in everything, but, they did not make their reputation from their spinal department. I think Minneapolis isn't that far from Rochester and I think it would really be worth a trip up the road to see someone else.

    Spinal cord stimulators sound like a great solution, but they aren't as simple as some make them out to be. If you need the names of the clinics in the Twin Cities, PM me and I can provide you with some names if you are curious about getting another opinion.

    xx Gwennie
  • suspect the procedure/test he is referring to is the Discogram. And that is very painful if you have issues. But most people are thrilled they got the test because it shows the doctor exactly which disc is causing the pain, rather than going in and operating on what "looks" like the problem is. Then the patient continues with pain. Many surprises have been found in a discogram.

    I agree with the others. If there is surgery that can fix your situation, that is the first thing I would do. I can't believe you had a doctor tell you to wait until you were numb. That could mean permanent nerve damage!!! I personally had 3 surgeries and STILL ended up with permanent nerve damage.

    The SCS is based on the Gate Theory of Pain and has been around since the 1960's. Here is a link from here on Spine Health explaining how it works. It is just a management tool for dealing with the pain. In no way a cure.


    Were I you, the first thing I would do is get at least another opinion. Are you even sure your problem is nerve related? Or do you have a lot of back pain also? The SCS is best for people with radiating nerve pain and it seems quite a few people who expect it to cover their back pain are disappointed. I think that depends on the brand, physician expertise, lead placement, etc.

    When we found out I had permanent nerve damage - there was nothing else we could do. I was immediately in long-term medical management for chronic pain. My problem nerve is S1, VERY necessary for mobility issues. I was at the end of the road of procedures, with 2 left - the SCS and the implanted pain pump. I chose the SCS and my life has been dramatically improved.

    Good luck!

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