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SCS Trial, Cervical

elijjenningseelijjennings Posts: 33
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:49 AM in Spinal Cord Stimulation
I just got approved for my SCS trial for left arm, shoulder pain. Feb 22, thank goodness, the countdown begins. Only 39 days until I can finally get some relief. Anyone have experience with the cervical implant?


  • Yes, both myself and Wrambler have a cervical SCS.

  • I also have a cervical SCS. Feel free to ask any questions you might have. I have had mine for 14 months.
  • I'm nervous what to expect for post-surgical pain? I'm no stranger to surgery. I have a pretty high tolerance level of pain. Something about cutting into my spine makes me feel weary....

    What to expect as far as limitations go? How long were you out of commission? I have a 3 year old and a 1 year old at home with me. I'm just wondering how much help I need to have ready.

    How was your experience working with the rep?

    Really anything you would be willing to share, and the more details the better. I just like to go into things armed with as much info as possible. Anything you can add would be appreciated.

    Thank you.
  • With my trial I found that an ice pack and some extra strength Tylenol was all I really needed to manage the pain. With the trial, the only procedure that is typically done, is insertion of one or two trial leads into the epidural space. The doc used lidocaine to numb up a small area, made a tiny little 1/4 inch incision and then used a special needle to insert the leads in between C7 and T1 and then threaded them upward. These were then tacked to the skin with two stiches and then the wires connected to a junction box and all of that taped to my back. Heavier wire exited the junction box and was attached to an external controller which I wore on a belt. I found it very important to wear an oversized shirt that I could keep the wires underneath, to avoid snagging them on anything.

    I had no restrictions other than not to shower, until the trial unit was removed.

    The rep and doc were both very supportive and at no time did I feel as if I were left to figure this out alone.

    My husband and I went and did some walking, and a little bit of shopping while I had the trial unit attached.

    When it came time to have it removed, it was painless. The doc removed the stitches and pulled the leads out without me even feeling it.

    One of the best things I found to do during the trial, was to shut the unit off for a few hours and see how bad I felt. More than that, to see how much better I felt once I switched it back on.

    Be prepared to come up with question after question as you go through this. If you haven't already, look through some of the threads in this SCS forum and read the stickies at the top. Lots of excellent information has been shared between members here.

    Best wishes,

  • My trail is going to be donw with the paddle leads, with the perm. going in a week later. All of it will be done in the hospital. I know this isn't the most common route, which is why I'm having a hard time finding info on recovery. Thanks for all the info you were able to provide!
  • I've not heard of a trial being done with paddle leads. My permanent implant is a paddle, but the trial was individual leads.
    I think "C" is tough! The first two days of the trial, I was very sore and uncomfortable and even cried to my husband that I couldn't stand it anymore. 3rd day, I woke up and felt like a million dollars. I think the soreness from the procedure had subsided and then I could really appreciate what the SCS was doing. I was able to drive myself after two days and met with my rep who did some changes to the programming on that 3rd day. The 4th day, it was removed and six weeks later, I had the surgery for the permanent device.
    It will be important for you to have help at home during the trial and after the surgery for the implant because the biggest deal is that there is no bending, lifting and twisting and this was much more restrictive than my instructions after my disk surgery (C5-C7). I ended up working from home since going to the office and hauling files, computer, etc was out of the question, but I felt like working after one week of recovery from the surgery.
    My trial was done in my doctor's office and I had to have my husband there to drive me. The surgery was done by a neurosurgeron in the hospital and I was required to stay overnight to receive antibiotics through iv, but I think in many cases people go home the same day.
    I will be interested in hearing how they can do a trial with a paddle lead. Seems physically impossible to me!
  • The major surgery is all done up front by my NS at the hospital. The paddle lead is put in during the trial, with the wires running outside of your body for the trial. After the trial week, which I can not leave the area, they will do a minor outpatient procedure to put in the perm. battery pack.

    I have been doing as much research as possible on this whole process for the past four months. I know this way is more committment up front. I definitly think its the best route for me. I'm just not finding anyone else that has gone this route :( Most people seem to have a very simple trial, but I know mine will have a major surgery recovery. That's where I'm lost....
  • When they implanted my paddle, bone had to be removed (laminectomy). How will they know where to place yours in a trial? I hope you can speak with your NS and get more details about what to expect with your trial. Good luck!
  • During the trial, the bone will be removed and the paddle put in. The will wake me up at that point to make sure I have coverage in the correct areas. So it sounds like my trial surgery is very much like your final surgery. How was the recovery from the final surgery?
  • Not so bad. I'm not going to lie. I ached, but I took Hydrocodone and a muscle relaxer and used ice and heat (whichever felt best at the time) and I got more irritated with not being able to bend, lift or twist than anything else. I was allowed to drive after a couple of weeks, but I did not really try to do much of anything except use the phone and work on my computer from a comfortable position in a big, cushy chair or propped up on the bed. In the end, my hip where the battery was implanted bothered me more than anything. The incisions weren't that big (maybe 3 inches each with a small one in the middle of my back where they had to run the wire out and back in) and they were stitched inside and closed with glue and surgical tape so I didn't have any staples to contend with.
    In my opinion, the hardest part was reminding myself that I could not bend or lift and that was a very long 8 weeks. I felt like doing more than I was allowed to do after a couple of weeks.
  • Thank you for all the info. I did get some good questions asked and answered by my NS. Sounds like very limited mobility for six weeks. Definitly going to be needing help with the kids. He said he would have me wear a neck brace for the first two weeks. And the best, no housework for a month. When I mentioned this to my husband he said, well I guess the house is going to be pretty dirty then :)
    Any suggestions on how to get distract myself and make time fly until the trial????

  • A dear friend of mine was just telling me last night that her trial we be the same as your.

    Her leads will be put in the same way and left in after the trial and be used for the permanent implant. This seems to be a fairly new way of doing things.

    She has not been put on a "drug holiday" but has been given a stronger med to be used to cope with her pain. She said she is having such good results with it that she just may postpone her trial.

    I believe that if your pain is being controled with meds you should not consider any implant. But that is just my opinion.

    I have a pain pump implant and am having wonderful pain control with it BUT if I had been getting the same pain control with oral meds I would never have considered this implant.

    But I can't help but wonder....what if your trial fails and the SCS does not give you any pain relief? Will your paddle leads be removed? There is always a slight chance that a trial can fail. I do hope it does not.
    Cheers :H
    Patsy W

  • If by some chance the trial does not work, then yes after a week they will remove the paddles.
    I will be seeing my new pain doc on Friday. Intersted to hear if they have any new ideas. Just ready for some relief, any relief. My pain has never been well controlled by medication. I have two small kids at home with me during the days. I take just enough medicine to be able to roll out of bed and be almost functional. When I take enough medicine to even begin to help with the pain, I'm a zombie not a mom.
    Only 20 more days until the trial. I pray every night that it goes smoothly and brings me the relief that I need.
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