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ANS Spinal Cord Stimulation anyone?

RatSquadRRatSquad Posts: 114
edited 06/11/2012 - 9:01 AM in Spinal Cord Stimulation
Good day all,

Well, I visited my pain doc today and he sent me home with information and a DVD about the ANS stimulator. My question is, is anyone familiar with this product or similar; and how is it working for them?

My pain doc said there is a chance I could reduce the Oxycodone he just prescribed for me with the implanted stimulator. Has anyone experienced this as well? As I loathe being on drugs of any kind, this by itself almost makes me want to have it installed immediately.

Another issue is, with my restolathesis (sp) there is a very good chance in the future I will have a multi-level fusion where the stimulator would be installed. Does anyone have any experience with this?

I will be talking with my surgeon in three weeks to get his input, but in the meantime I am seeking some input from folks who are using the stimulator.


View my history for all the gory details.


  • I had a lumbar fusion (L3-S1) 5 years ago after damaging 2 vertebra and 2 disks. The surgery helped but then started having a lot of pain in the legs. Turns out the fusion had trapped the Sciatic and Femoral nerves, tried various treatments and ended up having to give up work. I ended up having the stimulator fitted 18 months ago and within 4 months I had a new job and am working 40 odd hours a week. I still have some pain as well but am only taking co-codamol for it.

    A few of drawbacks:
    I sometimes get pain at the site of the stimulator and it sometimes 'sticks out' a bit (twists) so I have to push it back into place
    Because of the level I have it on I have to recharge every 3-4 days and it takes about 3.5 hours
    You are not supposed to use it while driving which limits my driving range considerably (changes in position can cause a 'surge' of stimulation)
    Changes in body position can affect the stimulation (so for example I turn it down when I go to bed as the stimulation increases when lying down).

    The drawbacks really are minimal compared to the benefits I am getting and I would absolutely have made the same decision to have it fitted, that said of course everyone is deifferent and has different simptoms.

    Hope all goes well for you, and if you want anything further let me know,
  • And it was the best thing since sliced bread...really! Of course it was uncomfortable but anything that they have to implant will take some time to get used to. It is true what PaulT said about not being able to use it when driving (unless you know the road is going to be consistently smooth) and you do have to turn it down before you sit or lie down or you get a surge. However, I was told I could not actually harm myself...and I actually did lie down with it turned up full blast. I got a "shock" but it certainly did not kill me. My husband did get a good laugh though as I writhed in pain screaming "PINS AND NEEDLESSSSS!!!!"

    Your PM doc will require you to do a 3-4 day trial like I did last week to see if it is for you. The procedure took maybe 10-15 minutes, not much more than getting an injection. In my humble opinion, it's worth a try. What have you got to lose?

    I am currently taking 60m Cymbalta twice daily and up to 8 hydrocodone (7.5mg) daily to manage my separate back pain (L4-S1 fusion Oct 2010). I hope to get off the Cymbalta so my husband and I can finally have a kid :) And I was pleasantly surprised to learn from my PM doc that I can take the hydrocodone while pregnant if I need it. I'm 35 and don't want to wait much longer and I am VERY excited that pregnancy is now a real possibility for me.

    I'm not saying spinal stimulators are for everyone, but my doc has had only 1 patient in his career NOT like it, out of hundreds if not thousands of others. I, too, am not fond of drugs and like to take as few as possible.

    I wish you luck and hope you have as good an experience as I did. I hope to get the permanent implant in a month or two :)

  • Sounds like it might be worth a try. As for the driving part, I live 5 miles from the nearest paved road. So there is no hope wishing for a smooth road :) It does sound like you need to keep on top of the settings, or find a happy medium if you move around a lot.

    And I would imagine clearing the TSA check point would be interesting :)

    My main concern is with the restrolithesis. As of my last MRI it was a little over 3mm, with a new MRI being done in the next week or two. Not sure if it would be worth it to have the SCS installed only to have the same area (lumbar) fused. Then again, I have no clue as to how soon my lumbar will get fused (if at all).

    Having been recently compelled to medically retire from law enforcement, I know there is no hope of returning to that field due to the physical limitations.

    Lonelygirl, I wish you success with your future children. They can be a blessing & a curse at the same time :D I dearly love my 3 kids & the grandkids. The best part is when I can get the grand kids all wired up & return them to my kids =)) image:)" alt=">:)" height="20" />

    Best of luck with your implant. I hope it works well for you.
    View my history for all the gory details.
  • Hi Curt...
    I do not use a SCS(spinal cord stimulator) but I did try one a few years back. A stimulator does not work for everyone and it did not work for me!(Sob) All I felt was the tingling on TOP of my pain! I was crushed.

    There is only one thing that I can add to PaulT's list of things that are a downside to the SCS implant. Perhaps your Doctor has already told you that you can never have an MRI if you have an SCS implant. It will do ugly things to the leads that they place in your spine.
    Like your Doctor said....you MAY be able to cut back on some of your pain meds but then you may not. A stimulator is considered a success if it reduces your pain by 50%. Even with a 50% reduction one would still neeed pain meds. Some people do get a better reduction than that,70% or even 80% and some get a lot less than 50%. You are advised not to have the permanent implant if your pain is not reduced by 50% but most go ahead and have it. They figure that some help is better than none at all. I can understand that.
    If you do have spine surgery the stimulater must be removed. The leads would be in the way plus no surgeon wants to take a chance on getting a nasty shock.
    Like LoneyGirl said....you will have a trial first and perhaps you will be as happy as she is with the stimulator.
    Best of luck to you.
    Patsy W

  • I had the PLIF L4-S1 for grade 4 retrololithsis. The intitial recovery was brutal but my low back feels excellent about 85% of the time unless I over do then I get a little sore. I am considered a complete success on the lumbar fusion.

    I was t-boned after a cervical fusion resulting in mutiple thoracic herniations so I am looking at a SCS to help manage my pain. I wont't hi-jack your thead.

    I was under the impression the scs or pain pump are a last resort after surgery. I didn't know any doctors would consider putting them in before fusions when they knew they were inevitable. Perhaps it is wise to get a second opinion?

    Good luck,

  • but all in all I think the pros outweigh the cons. There are, unfortunately, folks like Patsy who it does not work for (I'm sorry Patsy, hang in there girl!). It is true you can never have an MRI of that area again, but they do take MRIs of your entire back and neck areas before the implant.

    I won't lie to you about how much pain I still had WITH the SCS. It didn't take it away, but if it's any indication of how much better I felt, all I had to do was look at my husband and say "I think we might be able to have a kid!" and I started bawling...I was so happy I was almost overwhelmed. During the 3-day trial there were times when I would have had to turn the amplitude of the SCS to the point of being VERY uncomfortable to completely cover the pain. But it did help me. I hope it can help you as well.

    Regarding possible impending fusion surgery...I'd definitely talk to your PM/neurosurgeon before doing an SCS. If you think there is a decent chance you'll have the fusion in less than a year or two, I'd hold off. That way you can do the fusion and see if any of your pain clears up.

    @ Curt...I am facing medical retirement from the Air Force after nearly 13 years active duty. I haven't been able to fly in over 2 years now, so as much as I LOVED my job, I'd rather get out than "fly a desk." I wonder if you could find another job in law enforcement that is not as physically demanding. About TSA checkpoints, my husband jokes with me that I'll get "special" treatment at the airport. In all honesty I wouldn't worry too much. You won't be the first person that TSA agent has seen with a SCS :P

  • I put a bit of a dissertation about my SCS experience under another very recent discussion string here in the SCS boards/rooms.

    One thing I forgot to mention, no MRIs after you get your permanent SCS. You can have CT scans and XRays of course but no more MRIs so make sure you really consider that limitation as you proceed. Since I received my permanent SCS, I have flown a couple of times and passed through some federal government building entry security check points and (knock wood - my head is handy), I have not experience any differences and passed through all the machines with out them alerting on me. So, I don't know if the SCS brand or maker matters or maybe I'm just so very different and special! LOL Best of luck! Jerome
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