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Work limitations

Can anyone tell me if there are any limits set upon people who have a permanent scs implant. I'm currently out on workers comp pending approval for a scs trial date. I'm an electrician, 49 years olds with past back surgeries that didn't work out according to plan. (2 fusions, and 1disc replacement). Now the next recommendation from the doctors is a scs.
Would having this implant prevent me from doing my job? Would trying for long term disability/social security be more in the future than trying a new career path? I'm just trying to weigh all the options before making a commitment to this. Any feedback would be grateful.


  • I'll be interested to read your replies as I'm going through the same thing right now.

    I have been off work since November and waiting for my permanent implant scs on 21 January (if all goes well).

    I received a letter of redundancy this morning giving me notice to finish on 4 April. I was always informed that my job was temporary till the end of March, but I hadn't bargained on being off sick and having to undergo further 2 operations (for the scs). I am worried that my present and past sick leave and recorded history through the Occupational Health Unit at work might mean that I will be 'unemployable' to other employers.

    I too have enquired about my options, so as I said, I am interested to see what responses you get. I was hoping to return to my job eventually if they hadn't given me this notice first!

    I do not see why you cannot return to your normal job after you have completed the scs trial. Has your health professional told you otherwise? Good luck.
    2 x Microdiscectomy 2005 / PLIFusion 2-level 2010 / revision surgery 2011 / NEVRO Senza spinal cord stimulator implanted February 2013. I WILL NOT GIVE IN / UP !!
  • Well the pain management doctor told me that high EMF could through off the devices programming. I'm not sure about all the bending, crouching, stretching, twisting, pulling and lifting that occurs throughout the work day of an electrician. Reading some of the prior posts it says that with some excessive motion the leads can break or move out of position. I would love some real world clarification if at all possible. Why, if I can ask, did you have two operations for the scs. The trial and the implant, or were there complications.
  • No bending lifting ......I think for some 6 weeks. The tissue takes a year to fully heal and set the leads into place. I got laid off before I had a surgery date But.....I was going to take the FMLA (Federal Medical Leave Act) They cant fire you and pay your cobra for up to 3 months of medical leave. Google it.
  • jdglen42jjdglen42 Posts: 19
    edited 01/14/2013 - 1:37 PM
    That's good to know. I never thought of FMLA since I was on workers comp. definitely something to consider
  • I've had my stimulator a little over 3 years now. I work full time, but its in an office. I'm able to do yard work with my family during the spring/summer/fall. I have no restrictions placed on me. I will say that due to my condition, I'm limited in how long I can stand in one place, about 15 minutes comfortably, 30 if I want to push it. It's possible to live a relatively normal life with an SCS.

    When mine was implanted, I was placed on restrictions for 4 months while I waited for my leads to scar in. I followed everything to a "T" and knock on wood, I have very few problems with my stimulator. I'm not sure where the 1 year time frame comes from. The wires are tunneled under the skin in such a way to provide slack that should help in preventing the wires from pulling out. They also loop the wires near the IPG, which aids in insuring that the leads don't come out. You might be able to ask the rep if you can speak to someone who does what you do for a living.

  • I have an appointment on Wednesday with the rep. I'm trying to get a bunch of questions to ask when I get there. I'm sure there will be some that I'll forget. Is there any questions that you wished you'd have asked prior to this surgery. My wife has a feeling that this procedure is going to put me out on permanent disability, she is ok with that, but in the same breath a little nervous if that is the case.
  • Jerome001Jerome001 Cocoa Beach, FloridaPosts: 118
    Interesting conversation...I had my SCS implanted in early February 2012, required 4 additional surgeries to correct issues with battery movement and finally, after my SCS stopped working (after only 6 months), had a replacement surgery. I was also supposed to have a second SCS implanted because I have pain issues in multiple places in my back. I stopped working in late August 2012 because my pain was so intense. My SCS helps me manage my pain but it is of nominal assistance. I'm glad that I have it but I still take exalgo as my long-term pain med supplemented with 100 MG of nucynta 6 times a day. I had gastroparesis (stomach stopped working and I had a feeding tube) from 2002 to 2005 and I have lingering issues and I'm prone to, shall we say GI distress and ended up in the ER needing help to, uh, regulate my GI tract. My pain doc is very wary about my level of pain meds so he does not give me the level of meds I need for relief but I understand and appreciate his concern. I'm rather amazed that some people get enough pain relief from their SCS that they can work - I'm envious too! Each of us is really unique so my recommendation is to have your SCS trial last the full 5 days and really document how you feel through out the day and night during the trial. I am not aware of any work related limitations with an SCS implanted but I was an office pogue. I can see how being a tradesman could cause issues as you guys have to work very hard, physically, and if I were you, I would be very cautious about how I twisted and turned as I imagine you have to as an electrician as I can imagine the leads moving around.

    Also, the initial SCS settings will need to be adjusted as you heal because the stimulation will move somewhat. For example, when I had the SCS replacement last month, I initially had very good coverage from about mid back to just below my waist. Now, 4 or 5 weeks later, my stimulation has moved down into my butt and legs and I need to meet with my rep to have the coverage adjusted. BTW, I have a St. Jude's SCS as my doc thought it would provide me with the best coverage. He works with all the companies and selects from them based upon the needs of the patients.

    I did not want to go on permanent disability and hoped the SCS would enable me to work. Unfortunately, I was only able to work another 6 months. I'm cannot imagine what it will be like trying to work as an electrician with my back pain. I really hope the SCS gives you your life back. Please keep us posted and the best of luck to you! Jerome
  • RickilalasRRickilalas Posts: 559
    edited 01/20/2013 - 9:15 PM
    I was a general building contractor when my spine journey started. On residential and small commercial jobs I pulled my own wire. It was the fun part of the job for me, well that and the inspectors anyway LOL. My surgeries started out in 2006 both cervical and lumbar. I tried over the next few years to return to work and it just was not possible for me. I had a lumbar SCS implanted about 30 months ago which cut my pain way down from the waist down except for one foot but we are working on that. Its a lifesaver for me as far as pain but repeated motion and twisting, turning,lifting and all that good stuff may not work out and MIGHT cause several issues that MIGHT cancel any benefit you receive from the SCS.

    Keep in mind that you will have a set of leads or a paddle with up to 16 contacts on it that will be placed in the spinal canal and attached to help hold them in place so that the contacts stay in the same place. Now think about a 3/4 inch flex with a large cord in the middle (spinal cord) and two small wires on the sides now move and bend it without letting the wires move, get the picture? Once leads scar in and do not migrate it works pretty well but if the leads move 1/8 of a inch or so everything is off again and will need to be reprogrammed. It is not uncommon to need reprogramming several times before the leads scar in.

    Depending on what unit they use there a a few limitations most are common sense and a few odd ones too like skydiving
    and scuba diving beyond 10 meters deep.
    EMF are said to have a possible effect. I was told to stay away from large panels and welders. This was a interesting one because while I did both of my trials I was taking welding classes at the community college and everyone involved knew it.
    Then in my paper work it said welders may be a issue. I contacted medtronics about this and their tech dept said welders could be a problem. I explained that I was welding for over six hours during each trial. I had both a lumbar trial and a cervical trial and used the welders with the trial units on and did not have any problems. Their answer to this was well maybe it will be OK but a EMF can change the power settings on the implant shocking you so I should at least turn the SCS off while welding. At the school a electrical engineer suggested to stay as far away from the welder and not to sit inside of the
    welders leads as this would cut the EMF down some. Almost everyone sits next to the welder with a ground lead on the left side and the hot on the right side creating a larger EMF. This could be the next OSHA clamp down LOL.
    One more draw back I didnt see as a problem was MRIs after a implant. You in most cases can only have a brain MRI and that is only on certain MRI machines. That did not look like a problem until I had a TIA and they did about 6 CTs on me then a few months later I had two full spine CTs which was to much radiation in the short period of time so now I have to wait out anymore xrays unless its 911.

    Over all I am glad I have it and it helps me more then I can explain. Remember its just a tool to help with pain its not a cure or a fix all. After reading a few post tonight I would also ask how much a replacement remote control is for the brand your doctor wants to use.I have a medtronics unit and they have given me a new remote and a antenna with no cost to me or insurance. A boston user posted that BS wants $1200 for another remote I hope thats wrong but I have heard that before .

    I hope it works for you and maybe you will even be able to go back to work. It does not work for everybody and a few even have a negative experience with it. IMHO the skills of the surgeon and the rep that does the programing make the difference many times. Anything else I can help you with let me know

  • to make a very long story short I'm on my forth spinal cord stimulator.not just leads the whole kit and kaboodle.the leadskept breaking generator was cracking as well .so I went form Medtronic system to a Boston Scientific hoping that it will last longer....I will say this the surgeons in Lancaster County Pennsylvania installd the generator in the front so all the bending twisting getting knocked around is most likely what happened.so now the surgeon down here in Atlanta Georgia put the generator in the back I hope prey it last because I'm done getting surgeries.
  • I took a bad fall in Sept. Medtronic rep said I "popped a few stitches" I get no relief now, no call from anyone. It's been in for a year and a half. Dont know what to do?? They are there for you 110% for about 3 months then forget it. Good luck!
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