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Pre-op appointment for permanent implant, incisional pain for 6 mos?

BionicMomRNBBionicMomRN Posts: 37
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:52 AM in Spinal Cord Stimulation
I had one of my pre-op appointments today with my PM doc. I'm getting my permanent (St Jude-not sure of the model) implant next month. My surgeon wants to keep my a day or two because he anticipates my pain will be hard to control post-op...my PM doc today says that the incision and laminotomy to place the paddle lead will be painful for at least six months!? really? The back incision will be three inches (T10, 11, 12) the paddle lead has 20 electrodes-I didn't think they had more than 16. I am having the IPG placed in my abdomen, anchored to the fascia, right below my last rib (my surgeon's choice). I had to schedule out because of my work, I'll be off three weeks.

I'm getting cold feet, I don't want to trade one pain for another...that's what happened when I had my fusion last year. The trial was fabulous (aside from the lead placement sites). The last thing I need is to be more painful, I'm a nurse so I can't exactly treat my pain aggressively while I'm working a 12 hour shift...I usually come home barely able to shuffle in from my truck when I get home...two Norco, flexeril, Neurontin, advil...just to be able to get into bed and sleep for a few hours so I can turn around and do another 12 hour night.

I'm just rambling now, mostly I wonder how bad the post-op pain is?


  • Post op pain is a piece of cake compared to the continual grind of chronic pain.


    Welcome to Spine Health!
  • My incisions from my last surgery didn't bother me at all. I'm sure some of the discomfort will due to the location, not a lot of padding in that area. Leaning back when you sit, wearing a bra... etc will be irritating to it I'm sure.
  • C is right- at least you know WHY you are hurting post-op.
  • The IPG pocket tends to burn for a few weeks when you transition from sitting to standing and the reverse. It settles in a minute or two and then is quiet. A nice gel ice pack does wonders for increasing post op comfort. I found it to be important to get out and walk right away, just had to be smart and take it in segments and then rest in between. In no time I had far more energy and stamina.

  • I'm sure some of that stinging is due to a bit of soft tissue stretching and tunneling. I am not a very big person...I'm not sure if he chose the abdomen due to my lack of padding, my occupation, or my tendency to get up and go (a bit of OCD when it comes to housecleaning, laundry, vacuuming and that kind of stuff) I do have my little reach and grabber tool that I was very good about using before.
    I even told my neurosurgeon I'd wear my LSO brace when I went back to work, if I have to...sigh, ready to just get this over. I do have three of those gel packs, they are awesome.

    Thank you for your input :)
  • Hope your surgery will go smoothly. I don't remember having incisional pain for six months after mine. In fact, the incision where the paddle was put in stopped hurting very quickly. The surrounding area (not the actual incision) did remain "achy" for a while. I'm sure it was because of the laminectomy. I found the hip area to be much more of an irritant and the swelling took a good 8 weeks to go down completely and you won't be dealing with that. The abdominal placement was never mentioned to me as a possibility and I've read here that many doctors don't like to do them in the abdomen because it would require turning the patient during surgery. I sometimes wish mine were in my abdomen because the hip gets really sore at times (after charging or lots of activity where I've been bending).
    Make sure to let us know when your surgery date is spproaching so we can be thinking of you. Best wishes.
  • he said that the abdominal incision and tunneling area will be sore, but resolve rather quickly. The incision for the laminotomy and paddle lead will be right under my bra strap...guess I add the question to my "list" as to why he thinks that area will be so painful. Thank you for your input!
  • My permanent was placed on Feb. 21st. I don't have any lingering surgical pain (well... kinda) but I do have muscle spasms around the surgical site over my spine. I also had a lammy for the paddle lead placement. Anyway, the muscles get very tender to the touch. Not sure how long this will last but I chalk it up to my body getting used to having new hardware and the fact that someone cut into my back. I still am having trouble working a complete work week since the implant.

    I have the IPG in my abdomen as well (at my request) and the incision is not healing there nearly as well as the others. I was just noticing last night that there may be some infection going on, it's red and hurts a little bit. They had to stretch the skin a bit and I had scabs which went away. One of them has come back. I'll be setting up a doc visit today to have them look at that.

    Good luck with your surgery, knowing what I know now I would do it again in a second!! I am really hating the wait for everything to settle down though.
  • I know what you mean about the waiting game. The trial was great for me (aside from the placement-that was a nightmare), I have hopes that this will be the ticket for me. I've tried everything else. I had to schedule out two months because of work and staffing (or should I say understaffing). I am a nurse and work 12-14 hour nights...I hope I will still be able to work! It is torture for me right now, there is not much you can take for pain without the risk of losing your license, not taking a chance with mine. I don't think stretching the skin will be a problem, I am not very big but I have been pregnant four times. hahaha. ;) Keep an eye on that incision...definitely don't want an infection!

    Thanks for your input Jay
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