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SCS for persistant arm pain

grandmesamomggrandmesamom Posts: 181
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:49 AM in Spinal Cord Stimulation
I was wondering if they place SCS devices for cervical issues only. I have severe nerve damage in both arms(myelopathy and radiculathy).I am on lyrica,norco,advil but I get little releif. I am going to bring this up to my Dr next week. I can't understand why they feel it's okay for this horrible arm pain to persist. I was told to go on disability but I was wondering if I could get any releif with this.Does SCS work for arm pain?
Thanks Bethy


  • Grandmesamom,

    I stand with you on this one! I have severe neuropathy episodes in left arm due to C-5/6/7 which I am told C-Spine anterior/posterior surgery will not resolve. When I'm not in an episode with severe nerve pain, my arm has deep aching. I am told it may become bilateral (both arms eventually) narrowing & compression is on both sides, more severe thus far on the left.

    What has been your diagnosis and did you have OS or NS assess for nerve compression? Have you had C-Spine surgery?

    I understand best medications for nerve pain are anti-convulsants, i.e. Neurontin, Lyrica. Have you taken either of these? If so, any level of relief?

    I'm back on Neurontin for now; tried Lyrica for about a week by side effects were issue.

    For the broad scale of disorders/diseases that have issues of chronic neuro-muscular pain, and for years - - one would think they'd have more than anti-convulscants and few of those to take!

  • Janelle,I had a cord compression at C5 C6 one year after a fusion at C6and C7.My diagnosis was myelopathy and i had another fusion at that time. I was told this would stop the symptoms from progressing but may not change the damage that was already done.I too also have the deep arm aching which has been chronic on my left but more recently just as bad on my right.I try to tell my NS but he doesn't want to hear it and says my arm pain is not from my neck.My left arm shows the nerve damage on emg but I havent had one on the right. I am on lyrica now. It did seem to help initially but for some reason my symptoms are worsening. I just was wondering if SCS could be an option for me. I need to get another opinion but I don't know where to begin. I want to live a life where my pain level and arm function is tolerable and I am nowhere near that point yet. I hate these anticonvulsants because they make me so tired and I feel like I am half brain dead. Bethy
  • Yes a cervical SCS is very effective for arm pain. I have neck, shoulder, arm and hand pain that is controlled with the assist of my SCS, Neurontin, Celebrex and Baclofen. Are you being treated by a pain management specialist? They are normally the ones to address whether or not you would benefit from an SCS.

  • I am being treated by a Physiatrist who is suppose to be a pain specialist. She has tried numerous meds and we settled on lyrica. She has never mentioned injections or a scs.She continues to offer orders for PT. I did PT for 6 months but it only causes more pain. The more I move my arms and work them the more nerve pain I have. I am very frustrated because I don't think going on disability will solve my issues as she has suggested. Bethy
  • A physiatrist is a different type of pain management specialist. The ones who normally deal with spinal cord stimulation are those typically with backgrounds in anesthesiology or neurology.

    With my SCS I have been able to not only avoid considering disability, but I have also gone back to working.

  • That is encouraging news. I want to work but the pain and lack of coordination has made my life miserable. I just returned from my PCP who told me if I Didn't halt the progression by stopping to work that I would be a quasi parapalegic(whatever that means)in 3 years. I asked about the SCS and he admitted he did not know much about it and they have limited success. I want to try something else. I dont feel I have exhausted all efforts as he thinks I have. I am also going to seek another opinion from an ortho spine specialist.
  • Gosh, I'm so sorry for what you're having to deal with right now. I think another opinion from a skilled spine expert would not be a bad idea. My neurosurgeon is the one who ended up referring me to pain management specifically for the SCS. They work in seperate practices, but work closely with their various patients. I hope you can find a good situation like that where they can work together to help you be more comfortable and hopefully to continue working.
    I will watch this post to see how you come along. Best wishes to you.
  • Thanks for your well wishes.I found a ortho spine specialist at a large university who specializes in cervical issues especially myelopathy like I have. I called today and have an appt on Monday.My PCP called me today and said he talked to my Physiatrist who said they explored all avenues to treat my pain.She said it was not a surgical issue and there was nothing else they could do for me.All we have done is PT and lyrica. That is why I want to try a SCS.What have I got to lose? I think it is barbaric that my pain is not controlled and that my arms are weak and useless to me. She even told my PCP that if I went on disability that my condition would worsen because studies show that people just sit around feeling sorry for themselves.Wow! I do feel sorry for myself right now.This is not the life I wanted to be liven at 48.Thanks for letting me vent. Bethy
  • I'm so glad you were able to get in so quickly. Let us know how that appointment goes on Monday.
    I'm 48 also and not ready to sit on the sidelines. I don't blame you one bit for wanting to try more things before they give up!
  • My neurologist brought this up yesterday. He quickly decided that it wouldnt work. Since I am not at the point of being willing to try it I didn't pursue it.
  • I saw my Physiatrist yesterday and I am even more confused about her whole presentation. She said that SCS do not work for arm pain and they are usually give them to lower backs. She said when they do give them to people they are so messed up that usually nothing works for these patients.She didn't want to discuss this. Now this is the same Dr who suggested disability and now states that people who go on disability usually become more disabled because they lay around all day thinking about pain.She also told me that disability might be hard because I didn't get injured at work. WHAT ??? She then went on to say that my pain is from a fixed myelopathy and that it is similar to people who have pain after polio.So at any rate can you see why I am confused? I can't believe that it is ethical to allow this pain and weakness to persist and expect me to live a normal life. I am really starting to become Dr phobic. The last NS I had said my films were pristine and that quicly declined to a severe cord compression. I am excited to see this Orth Spine Dr.Do they have a different perspective than Neurosurgeons? I haven't met a NS yet that didn't have an inflated ego!Bethy
  • I am glad to see you are seeking more opinions.

    Hope you get some answers that help.
  • It's unfortunate that your physiatrist is so uneducated about cervical neurostimulators.
  • I agree with haglandc. I saw both an Integrative PM doc and a NS who both recommended me for a SCS. I have RSD with severe pain in my neck, shoulder, and arm. My NS is confident that they will be able to cover the entire cervical area with a paddle lead to control the pain.
    I am still waiting for insurance approval, but am very hopeful about my trial surgery.
    Don't give up hope, and read as much information as you can get your hands on. I have found the more educated I am the more options I seem to be finding; and thus the more hope that I have.

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