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Spinal cord Stimulator

cbergensccbergens Posts: 31
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:44 AM in Spinal Cord Stimulation
Have those of you who have spinal cord stimulators noticed a lessening of effect after several years? My doctor says this is a big problem with them, and I need to know in order to make up my mind about getting one. Thank you.


  • Ive only had mine 11 months but yes the effects change over time. This is mostly due to scar tissue and needs to be reprogrammed frequently. I get mine reodone about every two months. The University of Florida has done a research study on this subject. They determined a SCS is no different from other remedies. Your body adjusts to the device. This is why reprogramming is frequently needed, to give the body something new of sorts. The goal of SCS is to alieve about 50% of your pain. Its not a total cureall.
  • had mine a year and a half now (wahoo!!) and I've gone to get reprogrammed 5 times I think? This last time, my programmer gave me an amazing program - first I turn it on, and then I can adjust each leg separately (I have 2 leads). If my right leg is worse, I can turn it higher than my left, for example, and then once I have both legs "set", I then turn the entire program up or down. It is incredible!! I've been in bliss mode since she did this.

    I have the ANS/St. Jude Eon Mini, btw.

  • I am looking at having a SCS put in so this is good information to have. I didn't realize that you would need to readjust the device but that makes sense. The Dr. said it is similar to like having a pace maker.

    Cheri-this may sound dumb but I am assuming you have some type of remote control device that allows you too adjust to what you want. Do you carry this with you at all times? Is a self adjustable one typically what is used now or would I have to request it? Do it ever short out and adjust when you don't want it to??

    Thanks, Renea'
  • I've just passed the 2 year point and find it works just as well today as when it was first implanted. I have the capability to make adjustments and shift contacts on both leads and find the longer I've had the SCS the less I need to make adjustments.

    There's a certain point at which the body just don't make any more significant scar tissue so things settle out. As far as getting used to it ... since the stimulation fluctuates with respect to how I feel from day to day, it's almost as if the body has it's own natural ability to keep from getting to used to the stimulation.

    At least that's my experience. My last programming session was 13 months ago and I would hate for anyone to go in and potentially "mess up" the good coverage I have at the moment.

    Renea, the SCS comes with a patient programmer that depending upon the brand and model, you can make certain adjustments yourself. It is not sold separately, it comes as part of the package along with the tools required to recharge.

  • I have had my SCS for almost a year. I too was afraid my body would eventually out smart the SCS and it too would stop working. I voiced this with my rep who told me that switching up the programs when needed, as opposed to leaving it set on one program and one strength all the time stops the body from out smarting the device. Once you are programmed they will give you several different variations of that program for you to work with. At my first programming session I was given 3 programs. At the next programming session I was given 4 more for a total of 7. Your rep can delete any program you don't find effective, and at the present time I have 13 programs. I don't use them all...but there are situations where I have to change things up and I may like program 6 in the morning and by noon I need the pounding of program 10. I did have them create a program just to allow me to sleep...it is lighter and it doesn't wake me up like some of them do...but I am still taking something to help me sleep and something for the pain at night...so I can get by with a lighter program at night. If I wasn't such a light sleeper I could do any of the programs.
    Some people don't like this feeling but I have my SCS on a cycle...it is on for 45 seconds and off for 30 seconds. This way my body will never get use to the program or setting because it is off and on all throughout the day. I too can change the strength on my 4 leads...where the pain is that is the lead that gets the most juice. It is wonderful. I do carry my programmer with my everywhere I go but I don't have to use it that often. I just wouldn't want to get somewhere and need it and can't get to it.
    As for jolting (shocking) yourself. My experience is that this sensation only happens when the leads are not scared in and it really doesn't happen to a lot of people. I did have one time it jolted me but come to find out I had damaged a lead. They turned off that lead and the sensation was gone. I did end up having a revision done but it was well worth it because they removed the damaged lead and the new one was place a little better...and I thought I had perfect placement before. I enjoy my SCS and my new found life. There isn't anything I can't do...a lot I don't because I don't want to risk it...but I no longer live on pain medicine to get me through the day. Don't get me wrong there are still days I have to take something...but at least it isn't that intense pain. Hope that helps.
  • Thanks for your posting's it really gives me some hope that this will work. I know there is no way to tell before if it will be successful, but I just have a good feeling about it. If I could just get the pain down and not have to take daytime meds I would be an extremely happy person. I have 3 little ones and I want to have a fun summer with them. Thanks for the encouragement!!
  • RWill, you will have a chance to see if it works before going through the surgical procedure. There is always a trial that lasts anywhere from a few days to a week. Mine was 4 days. If the trial does not provide you at least 50% improvement, the doctor probably won't recommend moving forward with the permanent placement.
    I am six months out since surgery so I haven't really had long enough to tell if there will be changes or less relief over time. We're still trying to obtain the best combination of settings on mine and I've probably seen my Boston Scientific Rep 5 times since surgery.
    Good luck to you!
  • I had my trial week in 2005 and I felt like I was 18 again and could run though a brick wall. I was crazy excited about getting the permanant installed. By this time I had 7 years of constant pain in my lower back and right leg and I thought for sure this would give me my life back again.
    Sadly though the permanent stimulator didn't even touch it, but I gave it a year. We did a revision, waited a year, did another revision and then last year we just took it out. The rep reprogrammed it countless times. They were so desperate they even gave me the codes to program whatever I wanted.
    I'm not here to bash the stimulator by any means. It can work, I know this for a fact. Just keep in mind that even if it takes ALL the pain away in the trail period. There is no garentee the permanent will work.

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