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Is the SCS for back pain only or will it help the neck?

4jkasper44jkasper Posts: 231
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:36 AM in Pain Management
I see alot of posts on the SCS but it looks loke mostly for the middle to lower back area, can it also help the neck? Iam fused from c4-c7 and always have pain between my shoulder blades that I would love to make it atleast tolerable.
Have any of you had the SCS for neck pain and if so how well does it work? My doctor wants me to go through trial but at $2000 out of pocket I need to know if it is even worth the try...
Thank you


  • My SCS is implanted in my c-spine for control of neck, shoulder, scapula, arm and hand pain. It works fantastically and I would do it again in an instant. It also helps with the cervical dystonia. I have two percutaneous leads implanted through the space between C7 and T1 that are threaded up towards C2 and C3. The left lead is implanted a smidge higher than the right lead.

    The trial lead/s for a cervical SCS are very positional and you have to have patience to really see if it helps with your pain. The permanent implant is far more stable.

    The only meds I take are Neurontin, Celebrex and Zanaflex. I use Tylenol occasionally.

    If you have exhausted all other methods of pain management, then in my opinion it is worth pursing and paying the money. Otherwise you will never know.

    Keep in mind that once you have an SCS implanted, you can no longer have an MRI. So if you have other spine issues at the moment you may be wise to sit down and discuss all your options present and future with your doc.

  • I agree with "C". The only way you will know for sure is to try. I have a single cervical precutaneous lead and can get coverage just about anywhere the programmer wants to put it! mine is for right shoulder, upper arm and scapula area.

    I take no narcotics at all. I now use flexeril, Valium and a couple of antidepressant meds, oh and Ambien.

    It took a while to find the correct mix to work with the SCS and my depression/bipolar disorder, but things are looking better most days than they have in a long time!

    I would probably suggest you ask for a long trial, especially with where you say your pain is. The lead insertion can cause some extra pain and cramping. My trial lasted 8 days.
  • i know this isnt your concern but just to clarify...my drs have told me the scs is not generally effective for treating back pain as such...it is more for sciatic pain in the legs.
  • FYI, I just went through the psych testing today and am waiting for my trial. I don't know about neck pain coverage, but my Dr. said that he can help my back pain and leg pain with the SCS. I think the coverage of back pain has just recently gotten better, and somewhat depends on your Dr. and their experience.

    I hope you find more answers to your questions. Good luck with your decision!

  • I know you mean well, but did you ever consider that your repeated statements about whether an SCS helps back pain or not can be discouraging to someone seeking answers? Your Doctor may be right or maybe my Doctor is right, who's to say? The real test would be to do the trial and determine for yourself. I'm concerned that you may be turning someone off from a solution that might help them.

  • My implant is for low back pain and bilateral hip to feet pain, and I get full coverage of all of those areas. But I can also move my lead array and get coverage up through my ribs and into my shoulder blades. I rarely have pain in those upper areas, so my ability to get coverage there isn't really intentional, but it's a nice side effect.
  • to hear from others that the scs may actually work for lower back pain for some people. based on my drs statement i had little hope for lower back pain relief. the good thing about this site is that everything gets thrown out on the table. maybe some of our docs should take a peak at spine-health.
  • the SCS for pain after a cervical fusion. I had severe shoulder blade pain. I also had arm and neck pain. The SCS works great for arm pain and fairly well for neck pain. My SCS has never helped with the shoulder blade pain. I have a Boston Scientific SCS. The model is Precision Plus. I have had a dozen or so reps. try to program my implant to cover the shoulder blade area and I have had zero luck with that. Give the SCS a trial run and see what happens. I wish you all the best!
  • That's what trials are for. I have a c-spine SCS and get great coverage of my shoulders and scapulas as well as head, neck, arms and hands. As a side benefit I get coverage in from my hips to my toes.

    I can tell you that a lot of how good an individual's results are, depends on where the leads are placed, the thickness of the dura in that area, the type of lead being used, the spacing between leads (which is why they developed the specify paddle lead) the way the leads are programmed whether cathodic or anodic, the number of contacts firing, if the leads are programmed individually or separately, if the signal is "focused" or "dispersed", whether the leads are place for dorsal column or dorsal root fiber activation thresholds...... hence the need to really work with your rep for optimum programming.

    Technology has advanced recently that has helped the medical community to better understand neurostimulation and how it best works to treat certain types and patterns of pain. People getting an SCS today benefit from that and people getting an SCS a year from now may benefit even more.

    The key is never say never. If you never open the door because you heard that it goes no where, you will never know if that door actually leads to a better life.

  • Pete is merely relaying what his doctor told him. I went through an SCS trial long ago which didn't help. My surgeon suggested trying a pain pump and said it would cover my back and leg pain much better in my case of course. The pump trial was a success and it relieved half my back and leg pains. "C" is right about the importance of going through a trial first to know that it's the right thing for someone. My PM doctor and surgeon told me that the stim won't cover my lower back pain. I do understand that the technology has improved recently and that there is more that can be done, and I think it's great. I'm all for any medical advancement that will help people like us.
  • thanks for sharing your experiences. My Dr. is recommending the ANS brand SCS trial, my pain starts from neck & goes down mostly my right arm. (have had C-5/C-6 fused, but bone spurs persist in growing!)
    I'm pretty sure I want to do it, getting the orders for psych eval next week. thanks again, Leona
  • I had SCS implant at C1-2, 3 in July 2010. I was getting some reduced pain for a few weeks, until it went crazy on me at which time I experienced severe "electrical sensations" through-out my body. It was determined months later at Mayo Clinic that the connectors were no longer in place. I had the entire system removed 4 months ago and now experience several post SCS issues to include facial burning, headaches, throbbing, new pain to arms, hands, feet..... These additional symptoms have not been diagnosed as yet, so I can only draw my own cause and effect.

    I've heard the SCS works for about 50% of its subjects for a period of time. I know, as many others on this site, the pain gets so very intolerable, you are willing to try about anything the Professionals recommend.

    Do your research.
    1996 - C4-5, C5-6 Fusions
    2010 - Medtronic Cervical SCS (leads implanted at C-2)
    2010 - SCS went AWRY :( .
    2011 - SCS REMOVED :)
    2011 - SEID
    Please......Do not agree to CERVICAL SCS w/o researching outcomes.
    God Bless you :)

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