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SCS Implant - Temporary or Permanent??



  • GOOD Question!!! I would LOVE to know the answer to that. I have actually run across people online who HAVE gotten the SCS instead of surgeries, but very few. I truly think it is based on the doctor's belief system. Shoot, after my 3 surgeries and I still had horrific nerve pain, they still told me to be patient and "allow time for my nerves to heal". Not one of those surgeries helped that pain. UGH.

    The SCS does not work for everyone and also does not work that great (or at all) for pure back pain, but the trial is so relatively simple (Mine wasn't, but I've been told that is very rare). I honestly and truly do not understand why this technology is withheld until the last possible minute (it seems to me). I do not know how a doctor, who knows full well the potential benefits of the SCS, sits and looks at a patient with permanent nerve damage (me) and claims there is nothing to help except injections, injections, ablations, etc. Even when I came with a referral from another neurosurgeon to do the SCS.

    One theory I have heard is that there is poor reimbursement by insurance companies and the docs make tons more money doing almost anything else. My programmer told me that ANS/St. Jude is working to get reimbursement rates up, but she had just a few minutes to discuss it with me. I had asked HER why this isn't used more often. (As I was crying waiting for the trial leads to be removed - I didn't want to go without that pain relief that I had just experienced for 5 days for one more minute.)

    Additionally, if my SCS continues to work like this and I eventually decrease or get completely off of meds, guess who doesn't see me anymore or get any money? Sad but true. I think that theory applies to many things in the medical industry.

    I would LOVE to find out the answer to that question. For people that pass the psych exam and have horrid pain, I would love to know WHY.

    "C", what say you? Any ideas?

    Good question.

  • Why is the Methodology (is that a word?) :) flawed?
    I have not been through a bunch of spine surgeries. Never been on anything stronger than Percocet. Not unless I was admitted anyway. I have also mostly just toughed out the pain and complained to anyone who will listen!

    I have had CT, scans, MRIs, a partial shoulder replacement.
    No one sees anything obviously wrong, Yet I am in pain! I've been poked prodded, injected , massaged TENS united. You name it. It all circled back to me still hurting and PM wanting to inject things that had already been injected!

    That's when I raised the white flag and screamed for a second opinion. The second opinion PM looked at everything my PCP sent him and told me it was likely I damaged (or the orthopedic surgeon did it) nerves. The injuries are not likely to be correctable even if they can be discovered. It's been too long, So he recommended an SCS trial.

    I guess depending on the doctors involved it is possible to get to the SCS without spinal surgery first.

    Quick? =))

    That ain't going to happen ! 8}
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  • Personally I feel that it has more to do with it being a last resort pain management device instead of a standard pain management device. Believe me, if I could be "fixed" by a different surgery, I would much prefer that route. If there were a surgery or some other conventional means of controlling my pain, I would jump all over that and give up the SCS. Since at the moment there is not, I am thrilled to have the SCS as a pain management option.

    I can certainly appreciate what the SCS does for me and am more willing to overlook what it doesn't do for me, since I know we have tried everything possible prior to go the SCS route. I really don't feel that a person can appreciate the help of the SCS unless they have been through the ringer and come to that point where there is no other option at the moment. I think that doctors are aware of that too.

    A couple years ago I was offered an SCS trial to control my headaches. I laughed at the idea and told the doc thanks but no thanks. I went ahead with a seldom done very risky surgery and wound up with complications nearly as bad as the original problem. Had I gotten the SCS at the time I would still have developed other problems now being addressed by the SCS I have now, however I don't think I would be as enthusiastic as I am or appreciative as I am today.

    The SCS limits me, whereas a surgery or two to repair something would provide me more freedom. So I think there would be a resentment towards making the decision to go with an SCS, had there still been surgical options. If I had any resentment towards my SCS, I don't think it would provide as much comfort and aid as it does.

    Getting an SCS is not a "one time good deal". It means that you are conceding to having more surgery years down the road when the battery needs to be replaced or there's some other hardware failure.

    I know when I am in horrible pain that isn't being treated properly, that just about anything "looks good" as long as it carries the promise of pain relief. If I had to choose between doors one through three and I found out after selecting the SCS door, that behind door number one was a permanent surgical fix, I'd never be happy and would always wonder.

    Anyway, those are my thoughts. I would never recommend an SCS to anyone who hasn't reached the point of "there's nothing else ANYONE can do".

  • I guess I focus on my situation too much. I was told I had permanent nerve damage and that nothing would help, yet a new doctor refused to help me until I did all the same 'ol injections, etc. I had already done them to no avail. (We had moved and I had no choice but to get a new doctor).

    I agree, if there is something that can be done, it should be. But did I have permanent nerve damage even before the surgeries? I had this same pain then as well. Each surgery was to "fix" that pain, yet never did and with each surgery came the risk of more and more scar tissue. I never had a discogram and I just wonder if that would have changed my treatment plan.

    When I got my EMG results, I was relieved to have a diagnosis yet mortified to have such a lifetime sentence of pain. It took a year from that point to get the SCS that was promised me by the former neurosurgeon. Guess we shouldn't have moved - didn't know it was such an ordeal to get.


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