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Spinal Cord Stimulator

atwitsendaatwitsend Posts: 33
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:45 AM in Spinal Cord Stimulation
Hello everyone!

I tried searching the forums for SCS's, but was looking for anyone who had one implanted or getting one.

I'm going for my trial soon.

I've been housebound since June due to my pain. I had to leave my job. I'm hoping this gives me some function back to my life so I can resume work, at the very least.

Anyone out there have one, getting one, had any problems, a good word????

Hope everyone has a pain free day!


  • Moring Yes I have SCS I am only about 5 month out.And I love it. It gave me back part of my life. I can walk over a mile noe where before going to mail box killed me. I will have to say the SCS was heaven sent. If you need any more infor please PM me

  • That's great news painkiller! Do you find yourself still taking pain meds with it?

    I keep hearing that helps everyone who has gotten it. I don't want to play devil's advocate, but is there a downside to getting a SCS? Anyone ever have any problems with getting/having one?

    I want to cover all avenues before taking the plunge.

    Thanks everyone!

    To a pain free day for everyone!
  • Yes there are some issues that most don't think about or know about until the permanent implant is in place. The life of an SCS patient becomes focused around protecting the SCS and keeping it programmed and charged continuously. Too much of certain activities, can cause lead migration or tear anchors loose or even damage leads and IPG's (the generator and battery). Once you get used to how long a battery charge will last, then you have to incorporate that into your schedule. Generally several hours at a time. Certain clothing items will cause irritation to the component areas, even years after initial implant. Some folks remain on the same pain meds, however they become more effective with the use of the SCS. No more MRI's once the implant is in place, so if there are any on-going issues with your spine, the doc has to use other diagnostic tests to evaluate your condition. Many doctors won't treat you once you have an SCS. Many have a misconception that the SCS takes care of most everything, so you shouldn't need any additional help. Of course that is incorrect, however they are unaware of that.

    Anyway, there are more, but these are some of the more noteable ones.

    Of course I would not be without my SCS. It has provided me the ability to function once again.

  • I think C cover it all But you may beable to cut down on your med. I did


  • I went through a SCS trial a month ago, and it failed to relieve enough pain for me to move forward with a permanent implant, but I can say that once you have the trial leads in place it will answer a lot of your questions. I'm a lady of a million questions before I do any procedures (as many SH members can attest), and like you I wanted to know all there was to know about SCS before my trial.

    There is a lot of good info out there. I know 2 of the 3 manufacturing companies (Boston Scientific and St. Jude ANS) have patient packets that they'll mail you for free. I'm not sure about medtronic because Medtronic was never considered for me, but they may also have something. If you know which brand your doctor is doing for the trial you might go on the company webpage and order a free info kit. I found the BS patient material to be incredibly helpful (much more so than ANS), but I did a BS trial so perhaps I'm biased? Also, if you are scientifically/medically inclined there are a zillion journal articles on SCS, so if that's your thing and you're into hard data for info you can find lots of those online.

    One thing haglandc mentioned (I think it was C) to me awhile back is that with the SCS you lose another piece of "normal." Sure you can turn it off, but you are basically trading pain for buzzing and the restriction that comes with a permanent medical implant. For most, this is no biggie because the pain is so debilitating anyways, but it is something to consider.

    For me, it became very clear during my trial what the trade-offs would be. The benefits were clear, but also the downsides were very clear. Hopefully it will be that way for you. My best advice would be to just read and do your research, ask your doctor and rep as many questions as you can, and then hopefully the trial will provide enough guidance to know if the permanent is right for you.

    As others have said the SCS is not perfect- I believe many PM and NS docs present it a little too optimistically to patients, so that is something to be aware of. Had mine adequately relieved my pain I would have signed up for the permanent one in a heartbeat, but I was also aware that the SCS can introduce some new challenges/problems into the equation as well.

  • Thank you all for the info. Appreciate it!

    I guess my reservation with the whole SCS procedure is that I feel like all it's accomplishing is masking the real issue. I keep hearing positive remarks about the SCS regarding pain....but, but, but.....

    It's a non narcotic way to hide the pain. What about the real issue at hand? I was told I should get fused, but because I'm only 31 they don't want to do it. Yet. We have to stay as conservative as possible.

    I'm shifted off to the left and can't stand longer than a few minutes. I can't sit longer than 5 minutes......to lay down is relief and only if I lay in a certain position.
    Is getting an SCS implanted going to allow me to stand straight and walk without a cane again? Has anybody out there had these kind of results?

    Maybe I should be questioning the doctor, but it's either the SCS or a fusion. And I was told the fusion wouldn't have a 100% success rate. More like a 50-70%. So, if it doesn't work, I'm really screwed...no pun intended.

    SO, would and SCS allow me walk straight again? Will the muscles finally release? Can I put the cane aside and go back to work?

    Sounds like I have high hopes............
  • Not to be a Negative Nancy, but odds are that if you have spinal instability, a stimulator will provide short term relief at best. A stimulator works best when its treating pain for permanently damaged nerves or like your case nerves encased in scar tissue. Based on my research, a stimulator is a last resort option after all other surgical procedures have been performed.

    Why are you being given such a low percentage of success on the fusion? That would seem like the more prudent option to take if you want to stabilize everything. Does this mean that a fusion will solve your problems? Who knows. It might be that both options are in your future but it will be more difficult to obtain the fusion once you have an SCS implant.

  • I guess the low success rate due to the previous surgeries? I really don't know.

    But after reading, doing my research and listening to others, I think I'd rather at least try the fusion first before getting an SCS. But that's just me.

    But because I'm only 31, they want to be conservative.

    Thanks for the info. I believe I'm going to call the doctor's today.

  • There's only one case that I know of where an SCS allowed someone to get out of a wheelchair and walk unassisted once again. This was a gal who had horrible knee pain. Surgery to repair the knee left her with a functional knee, but too painful to stand on or walk on. She was fitted with an SCS and walked out of the hospital and continues to walk unaided today.

    However as Dave has pointed out, the structural instability issue was corrected first. I went ahead with an SCS despite being offered surgery that might help reduce the pain I have. The surgery involved a muscle and nerve graft going in through the back of my jaw and behind my ear down to the top of my shoulder. I decided that I would wait for medical technology to progress a bit more before trying something like that. Since the muscles were completely gone by the time I had the SCS surgery, things have remained fairly close to what they were when I started.

    It's a personal decision and one that I discussed at great length with my neurosurgeon and PM doc. They recommended buying some time with the SCS. I am grateful to have the means to avoid further surgery at this point.

  • That's for sure. I would think that having the SCS in place would possibly limit your options in the future as it would likely need to be removed to do a fusion. Plus you can't have mri's with the SCS in place. I also wonder with instability would the SCS leave you chasing a moving target?
    Sorry I don't have a real answer to this. I would get second and third opinions on both the SCS and the fusion before proceeding.

  • A SCS is not meant to repair abnormalities in the body. As stated above, yes it is tricking the brain not to sense pain in a way. It changes the electrical impulses going thru the spinal cord. Anyway the projected success rate of a SCS is 50% also. So it may or may not help your pain at all. Mine has alleviate about 75% of my pain although the abnormality with my nerves is still there. But a SCS is supposed to be the last effort attempted after other procedures are attempted.
  • You mention that an SCS is a last effort after all procedures have been tried.

    Shouldn't have the surgeons at least attempt a fusion first then before implanting an SCS.?

    I never got a clear cut answer as to why I'm not a candidate for a fusion.

    I just don't feel like all efforts have been made to help me before doing this SCS.

    I worry about the SCS not helping and me being left with no options. It's scary.
  • I can only speak from my personal research. I did have a conversation with my Rep in February about this very subject. He said that Medtronic was implanting stimulator's in those that would have tears in their discs instead of performing fusions. Basically the goal is to help with pain management while the disc heals, which I would assume takes a long time. I would think if someone is going this route, the stimulator would work on multiple levels. One, it provides pain relief and two, you limit your activity because of the implant giving your body time to heal.

    Of course, what I just typed is pure speculation and I could be full of you know what. My suggestion for you, write down what you're asking us and ask those questions to your Doctor's. Make them explain it so you understand.

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