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SCS Implant Trial Failed - On the Table!

Adron82AAdron82 Posts: 4
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:57 AM in Spinal Cord Stimulation
I'm so upset. For 5 years I've been suffering from chronic LBP with radicular symptoms down to my left foot caused by herniated discs (L4/L5 and L5/S1), nerve damage (S1 and L5), and facet L2-S1. I'm only 28 years old, and do not want to stay on the narcotics that have been the only thing that helps with the pain so far. After steroid injections lasting only two weeks and successful radio frequency burns that have alleviated the facet pain, I've been hoping that SCS can get me where I need to be to be med free.

Well, an hour and a half in the doctor and the boston scientific rep gave up. They could not get the leads to stimulate properly without affecting my chest or abdomen. Only once were they able to hit my lower back, and that caused severe tensing in the abdomen as the pulses went all the way around. They went up and down my spine, T-12 to T-5 if I remember correctly and did not find a solution. I do not know why they did not try anything in the lumbar region.

I'm horribly bummed. The doctor said that my anatomy was just not compatible, and that SCS would not work on me. Is this possible? I've searched and searched and cannot find anywhere anything about someone not even being able to get proper stimulation while on the table.


  • Forgot to mention that they were able to stimulate my left leg properly, but couldn't get the back at the same time.
  • Scs works mostly for the legs not so much the back, Did they not use the new flat leads on you to get beter control of where it stimulates?

    I had 2 scs trials in the past that failed, I just got home actualy from my pain dr had injection and we talked about doing a 3 rd trial with the flat leads,

    The regular leads stimulate in every direction and hard to have it hit just the area needed,

    Sorry it failed for you also, But have you had surgery to try to correct the disc thats buldging?
    Flexicore ADR 2004 resulting nerve damage l4l5 Fusion 2006 same level, 2009 hardware removal with lami !
    2012 scs implant ,
  • Placing the leads in your lumbar area really won't do any good. Your spinal cord ends around T12/L1 and breaks out into the major nerve roots. Its very difficult to stimulate the lower back but if its going to happen then the leads will be somewhere in the mid thoracic area.

    Alex has an excellent question in whether its possible to repair the bad disc thus alleviating some of the back pain. Why not fill us in on your situation a little more.

  • Usually they do surgery before using a SCS. Have you got a second opinion regarding surgery? Keep looking for a Dr. to help. Take care. Charry
    DDD of lumbar spine with sciatica to left hip,leg and foot. L4-L5 posterior disc bulge with prominent facets, L5-S1 prominent facets with a posterior osteocartilaginous bar. Mild bilateral foraminal narrowing c-spine c4-c7 RN
  • I'm currently medically retiring from the military, and they have been extremely resistant to any type of back surgery that is not in immediate need (bowel/bladder, loss of muscle control). I will see the VA for the first time as a retiree in a month or so, and may see a different approach there.

    On my MRI, only my L5/S1 disc is protruding and appears to be touching the nerve, and the doctors say it shouldn't cause the level of pain that I have (my argument is that an MRI only shows a static image at one point in time, bending/movement/standing changes that composition). My L4/L5 disc is protruded, but doesn't impede the nerve.

    The majority of my pain is in my lower back, right around L5/S1, and it radiates out to the sides and down to the buttocks. Activity increases the pain. I get typical sciatica in the left leg, it's a constant shooting/pulsing pain I can feel and practically trace with my finger down the leg. The leg pain is usually a 2-4/10 on the scale, where my LBP is a typical 6-7/10 with meds (5/500 Oxy/600mg Neurontin/100mg Zonegram/and 50mg Elavil for continuous sleep).

    I often feel odd telling a doctor i'm 7/10 in pain when I hear a concious walking patient claim 10/10 5 minutes before. I've had 10/10. It involves crying, extreme pain and immobilization, and begging for it to either a) stop or b) be killed to be put out of your misery.

    I feel that the session today was extremely rushed on the table, and the doc just gave up without trying too hard. He know's I'm leaving in a month to move to another state, and it seemed like he just wanted to get on to the next patient and his SCS procedure.

    I was not aware that the thin leads are not that good for back pain relief, and better for limbs. I've made it clear that the pain is the back, i can live with the leg. Perhaps another try after i move and get a new PM doctor will be worth a try.
  • Like every one else I can't even consider a SCS until I have exhausted my surgical options. I was told the SCS wouldn't work for my Thoracic pain as I have multiple levels. I may go for the pain pump after my next fusion.

    It may be worth advocating for a few more opinions. I know a few military people who have had fusions. Since you are now retired I can't imagine them refusing you more effective treatment.

    I think if you are moving that a new PM and NS/OS would be the perfect ticket.

    Hang in there >:D<
  • I hope you get more opinions from an Orthopedic and a Neurosurgeon. Have you had an EMG/nerve test to show if there's nerve compression coming from that L5-S1 herniated disc and impingement?

    I had L5-S1 herniated disc and an annular tear and impinging a nerve and had to stop working completely as I could barely walk so I think more opinions may help decide if you need surgery. I hope you find a new Pain Management Dr. also to help you. A Physiatrist(Sports Med Dr.) may be able to help also. I hope you can get some pain relief soon. Charry
    DDD of lumbar spine with sciatica to left hip,leg and foot. L4-L5 posterior disc bulge with prominent facets, L5-S1 prominent facets with a posterior osteocartilaginous bar. Mild bilateral foraminal narrowing c-spine c4-c7 RN
  • Thanks Charry, yeah there is also an annular tear on my L5/S1. They tried sending me to a chiropractor and when he read that he wouldn't touch me. Go figure.

    I have had an EMG done, thats why I know for sure there is damage to the S1 and L5 nerves. It just seems like for the last year and a half that the army has been 'trying to help me' no help has happened. This last PM helped a lot with the radio frequency, but that was it :(.

    I think when I get settled in and my new PM doc, I need to really discuss things, cuz this guy was always in a rush.

    Sometimes its hard to remember everything you have had done at once and all the details, I need to write it all down when I go in..
  • Actualy they will do scs before any surgery, i had my 1 st trial before the adr surgery and that was my 1 st surgery on my back. I think many dr,s know surgery has so many complications if scs works and you can stay away from surgery sure they will implant it,

    Actualy after what i know now i would say in many cases scs has beter chance to work before they do surgery if the spine is stable,

    I think i wanted too much out of the scs before my surgery thats why i was not satisfied, Now i would take the same level of pain i had back then any day,

    Adron82. Emg will not confirm nerve damage, Emg will confirm something going on at that level such as compression from disc, scarr tissue or whatever is causing signal to show something going on,

    If you have a leaking disc, what leaks out of the disc can leak on the nerve and it will attach itself to the nerve in many cases, Thats when they do total removal of the disc and either fusion or adr as it was in my case,

    The longer the disc leaking stuff stays on the nerve the beter chance it will fuse itself on to the nerve and hard to remove it without causing damage to the nerve, This was just 1 of the reasons that was given to me to explain how i might have sustained the nerve damage i have,

    Only reason i know about my nerve damage is when they opened me up the 2nd time for fusion dr seen it and told me,

    Best if luck Hope this helps,
    Flexicore ADR 2004 resulting nerve damage l4l5 Fusion 2006 same level, 2009 hardware removal with lami !
    2012 scs implant ,
  • An emg is done to confirm/locate nerve damage. That is what the test is done for. In many cases, it can also lead to the cause of the damage- in our cases, herniated discs encroaching on the nerve root(s).
    The different readings/results obtained from the emg testing show where the nerve damage is coming from, and dependent upon the speed velocities, and other readings, it can give the examiner the "cause" of the nerve damage.
  • I have a similar problem as you. My nerves are all wonky, so it's very hard to get the leads to calibrate properly. I have 16 leads from T8-T10, & that covers everything from my middle ribs down. The wraparound is there but hasn't been much of a problem for me. It just feels like I'm doing sit-ups all day. You might want to see if your doc can hook you up with someone from Medtronic. It's possible that the difference in the leads could improve your results.
  • I think you've mistakenly written "16 leads" when it should be "2 leads 8 contacts each for a total of 16 contacts".

  • You're absolutely right. I misspoke. Sorry. I'm still on some meds from my computer swap, so my head--vocabulary--is a bit screwy at the moment. I have next to no drug tolerance anymore. *shakes head*
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