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Tens Unit or SCS??

eajosepheeajoseph Posts: 315
edited 06/11/2012 - 7:24 AM in Pain Management
At my injection today, somebody (IDK their name) came in after the injection and brought up maybe using a tens unit or a SCS. I know very little about these and was hoping you guys could share some opinions or stories (successful or not) about them.

If I don't get relief from this injection (the first one did nothing but make things worse) the PM said that there won't be a third one. And it sounded like he would tell my neuro that surgery would be necessary. I want to avoid surgery at all cost. But it feels like that might be all that's left. Right now, I hurt from the procedure and terrified that the only choice will be surgery. :SS

Thanks for any thing and every thing you can tell me.


  • I just found the paperwork the guys left. It wasn't SCS. I was pretty out of it when he was in the room.
  • eajoseph,

    The tens unit has been around for a while and a lot of people have good results from it. The Muscle Stimulator could be a number of things, are you asking about IMS?
    My PT uses a muscle Stimulator machine for my bursitis but I don't know what the name is. She puts a goopy gel on me and the machine has a wand that has a deep infra red massage it gives off. Not painful at all and does help give relief until she does a deep tissue massage after. :''(
    That usually only hurts while she is doing it but then if I make sure to do some stretches afterwards the relief will last for 2-3 days.
    I know you are nervous about surgery but there are so many therapies out there that may help before you have to make that decision.
    My suggestion is to research and try the tens unit. I have seen a lot of people post positive about it. Ask your doctor if he has one you can try before you purchase it. If it doesn't work you do have other options. ;)

    Take care of you,

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  • I am currently renting a TENS unit, for 3 months, and then I can decide if I want to purchase it. Check with your PM or PT, they usually have contacts with the companies that provide the TENS units, and can set up a trial.

    I have had one for about a month now, and don't really find that it helps me. My pain is not muscular, which in my opinion a TENS would be more beneficial for, so all it really does is mask my pain. It gives my brain a different sensation to focus on. But I have heard other people rave about TENS units helping them. I would give it a try if I were you, you won't know unless you try.

    And I would also give many other conservative treatments a try before considering surgery. Again your PM doc can help you with deciding what conservative treatments mught help. Acupuncture and massage come to mind. Check out the Alternative Treatment threads.
  • My TENS is allowing me to come to work. I keep the "bad kids" for my district so it is up and down, some walking and what ever I need to do to make it.

    I am usually starting at 3.5 or 4.0 in the mornings and by the time I get home is is up to 5.5 or b6.0. But it does take that intense hurt out. have also used it on my knee (replaced last year) and my shoulder (2 surgeries on it) so I am getting my $ worth.

    I would try it and see if it works.
  • You gotta try out a TENS unit if you've got a lot of pain! They're amazing! Why keep popping those pills when you can be drug free and use one of these funky little machines which are really effective right?
    Mind you, I think there are some cons on the market...go with a Body Clock one and you'll be safe. Their website says it all...have a look: www.bodyclock.net...they're medically approved, decent PR rating as they're pretty popular being one of the premier suppliers worldwide and affordable.
    They supply to www.tensunit.com who have a sale on right now - guess for New Year or something...so get in there!
    And they have those muscle stimulator machines too which I have heard are very good! :)
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  • I couldn't work for more than a couple hours if I didn't have my TENS unit. My problem is not muscular either, and I agree that it would probably be most beneficial for a muscular issue. But I think it does interrupt the pain signals in some way. (And it feels good too!) One drawback is that some days it stimulates my bowel and I have to use the bathroom a lot! :jawdrop:
  • The last time I was in PT, each time I went in, they would hook me up to the TENS unit and give me a 20 minute program. It made me hurt worse!! I hated it! When I finally asked the PT if we could quit doing that since it hurt so much, I was "released" that day. As if something about that/or my situation scared them. I had not been improving in general, and my complaints were more and more nerve related.

    It would be almost a year before I found out I had permanent S1 nerve damage. I can imagine getting PT not knowing you have permanent nerve damage can be really iffy.

    Anyway, I never thought that the TENS was very similar to the SCS or I might not have gone forward with the SCS. lol I got mine almost 2 weeks ago (the permanent SCS) and this relief is amazing, and NOTHING like the TENS "relief".

    Now, do more people who get relief from the TENS have muscle/axial pain? Because I rarely did - only had nerve radiating pain, with occasional muscle spasms.

    But I never did get an answer to why the TENS unit hurt me so bad when the SCS feels so wonderful. Other than, I was wondering if the TENS unit stimulating the muscles actually irritated my nerves? Does that makes sense?

    And the SCS is in my spinal canal, not affecting my muscles at all, just blocking pain signals from getting to my brain?

    The surgery for the SCS (while not wonderful for me because I had scar tissue problems) was nothing like any of the 3 back surgeries I have had. So I would barely consider it a surgery in those parameters.

    Good luck,


    P.S. I also had 2 injections and was told that if they didn't work, there wouldn't be a third. Except when I refused the 3rd one. It seemed no one remembered what they had told me and they were angry. I was "bucking" their system of 3 injections per patient. I reminded them of what they said and they would change the subject. I won - I refused any more injections. We don't need extra steroids and things being injected into our bodies if it isn't helping.
  • Hi Cheri, I don't think my back pain is nerve necessarily, it feels more like a dull ache. Much different than my sciatica. I don't think it's muscle either, but the TENS definitely blocks some pain signals. I could run my TENS for hours every day. It's interesting how these things are so different for everyone...
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