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SCS so soon after surgery?

backpain3bbackpain3 Posts: 45
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:44 AM in Spinal Cord Stimulation
Hi everyone, great site here, I appreciate your help. I had a fusion of L4-L4 6 months ago. I have had previous lamenectomies at L4-L5 and L5-S1 in the past. Right after the surgery I woke up with numbness/burning in both feet and partial foot drop in left foot. About six weeks later I started experiencing severe low back pain. My neurosurgeon did and MRI last month and said he does not see anything that could be causing foot drop. The MRI states that I have extensive epidural fibrosis encasing the thecal sac and nerve roots. He told me to go see a Pain management doctor as we had tried lyrica, ametriptilene, vicodin, ultram, etc. to no avail and various side effects. I cannot take narcotics as I have the side effect of not being able to sleep with them. So the PM doc has recommended that I undergo an SCS trial. Is this too soon after my surgery to try an SCS? If it works, that would be great, as I am getting frustrated with the pain, but I don't want to cause any other problems. Thanks for your help. I am also going for an EMG tomorrow.


  • 6 months sounds a little early to me. After my fusion surgery several years ago, I developed drop foot in my right foot. Once my surgeon was confident that most of my fusion was solid, he removed the hardware and cleaned everything out one final time which alleviated a lot of my back pain and the drop foot. My scans showed everything to be in place.

    An SCS is not going to do anything for your drop foot but will help with the nerve pain, maybe. It sounds like your surgeon is washing his hands of you. You may want to consider a second opinion.

  • I thought it might be wise to clarify my other post. I don't believe that the hardware was causing my drop foot. The tissue around the hardware would catch and cause pain when I would lean forward a little.

    The drop foot was probably attributed to some BMP overgrowth in the foramen area where the nerves exit the spinal column.

    It sounds like your being rushed into the stimulator before anyone has had the chance to identify your problem. I had my fusion surgery Aug 2007, h/w removal/revision June 2008, and my stimulator implanted in Nov 2009. It should be a long road before you reach for an SCS as a solution. There are other nerve drugs that can be tried besides Lyrica such as Neurontin, Cymbalta, Topamax, and Savella. I personally can't take nerve drugs so I settle (suffer from lots of side effects) for a low dose of oxycodone and the stimulator to make life manageable. I have lots of issues in the sleep area and take Trazadone every night which usually knocks me out in about 20 minutes.

    Your story sounds similar to mine. If you have any questions, feel free to shoot me a note.

  • I tried just about every thing there was to try.befor I had SCS. Yes it does help the nervs damage. Iam only 3 week out and doing better ever day.As for me SCS was heaven sent.After 3 more weeks I be back on my motorcycle and boat.Now I am not saying it will help every one. I also know it not a cure but it does help in living your life. I also know I will never be able to do all that I use to do.


  • Like Dave said, the road to an SCS is generally long. If there's still a mechanical issue that is tied to generating your pain, then an SCS won't really solve much.

    One thing that PM docs don't tell their patients generally. That is, that although an SCS can provide a great addition to your pain management package, it adds a completely different set of restrictions on your life that you may not want to be saddled with.

    *There's always the possibility of mechanical failure
    *Too much bending or twisting can tear anchors loose or break wires
    *IPG's (battery) generally cause discomfort depending on activity and clothing
    *IPG's have to be replaced when battery life is depleted
    *Depending upon demand, frequent recharging is required
    *Falls or other impact can cause lead failure
    *MRI's can no longer be performed
    *Caution must be exercised in use of certain power tools

    The list goes on ...

    So it is a "life choice" as well as a pain management choice. Although I think my SCS is fantastic, if there were a way to fix the problem that causes the pain, I would take it in a heart beat and ditch the SCS.

    Research your options. Don't just settle for the "next best thing".

  • Thanks guys for all the input. I had my EMG yesterday and the outcome was not very good. He told me I have serious permanent nerve damage. He said that there are six nerves in the lower leg for L4/L5. He said you only have 2 that work. He did not think that it could be fixed via surgery, but that the possibility exists that they could regenerate or the other 2 nerves could take over the function. He recommended that I possibly look at a foot brace for the foot drop, and did mention that I should at least try the SCS trial to see if it would help. He also said I am losing muscle mass in the left leg. I go back to my PM on Monday and will probably agree to the trial of the SCS. It will also be interesting to see what my neurosurgeon has to say as he has been downplaying all of my complaints. Maybe between the SCS and some type of pain/nerve meds I can at least function a bit and not be stuck laying around the house not able to do anything. I may also try to see another neurosurgeon for a second opinion. Thanks guys! Have a great weekend!
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