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Stimulator Question

I'm 28 years old and have 2 back surgeries. The first a successful laminectomy/disectomy at the L4/L5 in 2000 where I had 10 good years of living a happy normal life as any young person would hope to do. I was careful to maintain my core strength and avoid high impact activities as recommended by my neuro and was hopeful things were gonna end at 1 surgery. Then in summer 2010 my back started to have major spasms. 2 doctors kept telling me I just had a bad lumbar strain and kept reaggravating it because I was in a physical line of work. I did months of therapy, accupuncture, braces, tens unit, nsaids, muscle relaxants, massages, etc. to get better as I wasn't showing any real neurological symptoms.

Then in July 2011 I started to have trouble with my right sciatic nerve. Things came on gradually and that's when my Dr. became more concerned of further problem (yes, hello, it took that long). I ended up reherniating the same level and had a fusion in December. In surgery my neuro discovered a synovial cyst that was embedded on my nerve and I think it growing over time was what caused nerve symptoms to come on so gradually.

Anyway, was recovering slowly but surely post-op. Was strict about PT, walking, pool exercises, etc. and was hopeful I was going to hit the 6 month mark and be back to good as my neuro pretty much promised me. Then I had a set back of major back spasms for a period of 3 weeks. Saw the NP who felt I had a "lumbar strain" again and to just give it time. Then acute sciatic pain developed. It's very strong in my right "rump roast" as I call it, skips the thigh, goes down the outter line of my calf, small toe line, and heal. There's also intense numbness. I have really no sensation in the lower part of my leg. One day at work I had an embarrassing encounter (this is at a new job) where I had somehow cut myself pretty badly on my heal and was trailing blood everywhere and had no idea because I have no sensation. I can even scrub and clean a wound like that with rubbing alcohol and have no problem.

Neuro wanted an MRI to rule out any major structural problem that is causing this and discussed a nerv-stim. MRI wasn't very conclusive as to what would be compressing on the sciatic nerve to be causing this problem. So I'm trying my "3 strikes and you're out" injections. I've had one, with zero results, and go back soon for the 2nd. Pain specialist felt I really am I candidate for the stim.

SO, here's my question. I wear a TENS unit basically 24/7 at this point and kind of think of it as an internal tens unit, which is fine. My concern is, while a nerv-stim would potentially take away my pain, will it help with the numbess? This is in my right leg/foot and only getting worse which scares me because I really don't want to lose the ability to drive (right now can only handle short distances as it is safely). Has anyone here had the stim and how did it help with your numbess? Did it stop it? Maintain it where it was?

That's my number one concern right now. Any help would be greatly appreciated because this is really weighing on my mind. Thanks! :)


  • backbback Posts: 190
    edited 08/05/2012 - 4:23 AM
    I have a stimulator and my left leg is partially numb from the knee to my toes. The numbness effects about 40-50% of the leg. The stimulator has no effect on the numbness. It does help with the pain some. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news.

  • First let me welcome you to Spine Health because I see you are rather new here. "B" is correct, the SCS(spinal cord stimulator) will not help with the numbness you have but may help to ease your pain. I do not know of any medication that may help either. I had my SCS removed and now have a pain pump implant. I have wonderful pain controle with it but it does nothing for the numbness I have in both feet.
    Wish I could be more help. Best to you.

    Patsy W
  • kathyykkathyy Posts: 580
    edited 08/08/2012 - 8:28 AM
    I, too, had what my surgeon called a "huge" synovial cyst at L4-L5 that was entirely engaged in the dura. It took an extra 3 hours in surgery to remove. It is just personal opinion but I think when you have that type of complication, it mostly just means that you can expect nerve damage. BUT THAT IS STRICTLY PERSONAL OPINION. As to SCS and treatment of numbness, I think you should talk to your doctor because I am not quite sure but I wouldn't think it would be very effective. Best of luck to you. Kathy
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