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Can SCS stop working? + rant sorry :(

DanianneDDanianne Posts: 31
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:41 AM in Spinal Cord Stimulation
Hi all :) :H

You may know me from my scs and pregnancy post. But now my mind is coming up with more questions. I have not gone from my trial yet, that will be set up sometime next week, probably for the following week. I did however go for my behavioral eval, which i passed, even though the psychologist said I could be on the verge of major depression. :O All I told him was that when i think about my situation i get sad. But I have a great support system and try to be as normal as I can. Activity makes my leg scream at me, so the simplest things wear me out. (|: I'd like to think that anyone facing my situation would have reactive depression at times. My husband and I had to move in with his parents, so I had care and he could continue to work and they can help us out. We are 30 and would like to have our own life, but my situation is putting that on hold at the moment. Im facing difficult decisions with my scs as well. So I'd think that anyone would be sad at times in this situation. However, my husband and his family are so wonderful and I dont know where I would be with out them. They really keep me motivated and happy. I understand I need to be watchful for major serious depression but he could have at least told me that it is normal to feel depressed with what im going through, just be mindful for it worsening. Which I am watching. lately, with the pregnancy question, I am more depressed that I have been before, but im beginning to come to terms with it as much as I can right now and have been looking for more info.

Sorry about the rant #:S .... on to my question....

I have been wondering if over time, with consistent use, if the SCS can stop being effective. I have a TENS unit that I use on my leg constantly and b/c of that, the effectiveness has decreased due to me getting use to the sensation i suppose. Can that happen with the perm scs?

thanks so much, you all are always so wonderful. >:D<


  • Anything is possible, including having the SCS become ineffective against the pain it was implanted to fight. This is documented as something usually seen in a person who is suffering from RSD (Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy).

    The general consensus, is that if a good screening process is done and there is no mechanical instability remaining, that SCS therapy will remain viable. I know one gal who has had an SCS for 9 years and still continues to get great relief from it.

    Scar tissue will develop which will lead to impedance changes (think of an increasing incline that you walk up, it just takes a little more effort to do)however the SCS is developed to adapt and overcome this issue.

    One thing that is easy to do when suffering from chronic pain, is to "put the cart before the horse". Don't lose out on what you have today, by worrying so much about what may or may not every happen years from now. The good thing is that medical technology is always making advances. In a few years there may be something that enhances or is far superior to spinal cord stimulation. What you need is to get relief now and use that to regain your life today.

    I heard a phrase many years ago, that really helps keep me grounded in reality. That is:

    Yesterday is a canceled check
    Tomorrow is a promissory note
    Today is cash in hand

    Live for today, for it is here right now and can be touched, tasted and felt. No one really knows what tomorrow will bring, so don't miss the treasures of today worrying about tomorrow.

  • Anything is posible Danianne that it could stop working in time.But after having 2 trials myself in the last 6 years,My guess would be if its working for you during the trial period then good chance you will have long term releif with it. My trials failed both times, 1 before any surgey, 2nd after surgery. Trial is very simple realy, so as Haglandc said,no need to over worry. You test it out like taking a test drive with a new car. If you dont like it you dont buy it. Best wishes,hope it works for ya. Sincerely Yours; Alexhurting
    Flexicore ADR 2004 resulting nerve damage l4l5 Fusion 2006 same level, 2009 hardware removal with lami !
    2012 scs implant ,
  • This is something you need to ask your PM about. My Pm told me before my trial even that the SCS could stop working for me in a year or two. At that time I fugured one or two years of pain relief was better than none at all!!
    Like "C" said ....do not worry about what may never happen.
    There is also a chance the SCS may not work for you at all. That is what the trial is for....to fimd out if it will.
    Best of luck to you dear.
    Cheers :H
    Patsy W
  • Unlike the TENS unit the SCS can be put on a cycle of say 30 seconds on and 15 off or any combination that works for you...some people don't like the sensation, but I prefer it. I don't have to turn up my unit throughout the day and the rep said it is because my body isn't becoming use to it. My opinion is...the SCS is a mind set if you believe it will fail than it will if you believe it will work it will...now I am not saying that with some people it doesn't fail, but I think having a negative outlook and looking for trouble with the SCS is putting you in a postion where it might not work for you. Don't get me wrong...I went through a period of worrying and asking questions...but it never occured to me to ask if it could quit working. If you have a good surgeon then they will work with you till it is right. Relax...you will know the right thing once you have had the trial. Remember...you may not notice it right off...but once it is turned off at the end of the trial you will know if it helped you.

    Again...I am not bad mouthing you or anyone...just trying to get you to be positive about this or it is doomed before it begins. Good luck...and if I can answer any questions for you feel free to PM me.
  • about this when I had the permanent placed. My pm doc warns his patients about neuroplasticity - that pain signals will find away through, and if need be, around the stim. So the pm doc encourages us to turn our stims off once in an unspecified while.

    When I asked the Medtronic rep about neuroplasticity and the likelihood that this therapy will become less effective over time, he said, "Yeah, I do that too: come up with things to worry about. Just quit worrying. Have the reprogramming when it's needed, charge when it's low, and live your life."
  • Back in the "old days," when the stimulators were running on single channels, with 2-4 electrodes per lead, habitation to the signal was a huge problem.

    The stimulators on the market today are so much more advanced and have such a wide range of programming options that it's almost unheard of to have a stimulator stop working because of habitation to the signal. Even if a person's body adapts to the signal, it can be "cured" by reprogramming. With a 16-electrode stimulator, there are literally billions of permutations.
  • Thanks for the laugh. When you wrote
    Even if a person's body adapts to the signal, it can be "cured" by reprogramming.
    All I could think of was, "no need for that, all you have to do is turn your head to prevent habituation".

    Sorry, it's a c-spine SCS joke. :-)
  • Mackenzie said:
    .... Just quit worrying. Have the reprogramming when it's needed, charge when it's low, and live your life."

    Now that is a great rep!

  • All I have to is lean back.....
  • I think my allergies actually keep me safe from any concern habituation issues. A few good sneezes a week when I dust my knick-knack shelves and I'm good. ;)
  • BionicWoman said:
    I think my allergies actually keep me safe from any concern habituation issues. A few good sneezes a week when I dust my knick-knack shelves and I'm good. ;)
    LOL thats great!! So funny! =D

    Thanks for your comments. Everything is so helpful to know. I try to be negative or worry too much, but it is hard. Im not taking anything to heart to offedsive at all do not worry. The only reason I even started to think of it stop working is because my physical therapist planted the seed in my head. I become used to my TENS unit at times, because I do not shut it off (which is why) so knowingthat, that therapist brough up a question about the SCS. I can see that I should shut it off occassionally or change the settings on it to keep it "fresh" so to speak.

    I love the quote about your what your rep said. Thats wonderful! I am hoping so much that this works for me, and am trying to keep a positive outlook. Because honesty, if this doesnt work, I'm not sure what I would do next, if anything. Up the meds? Idont know but I try not to think about it. I go to my PM next week and then should schedual the trial. My surgeon wants me to go for one last MRI since I will not be able to have one after the implant and just to be sure ther are no bone spurs or what not. The last myelogram came back clean last summer so the doc's thoughts are the nerve is damaged. We'll see what happends.

    thank you all for your best wishes and advice! I will deffinately take yall up the offer of pming you for advice in the future! >:D< >:D<
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