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SCS Research

davedave Posts: 860
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:32 AM in Chronic Pain
I am in the process of researching if an SCS is a possible solution to my current pain problems in my legs. My doctor has recently breached the subject with me and I expect to discuss this further at our next appointment in August. In the meantime, I'm trying to learn more from others who have an SCS with similar symptoms to mine.

My signature indicates the number of surgeries that I have had to include a link to my fusion recovery blog. My current state is as follows:

Pain: 90% Leg / 10% Back

Back: Minor burn around L4/L5 area sometimes.
Legs: R Big Toe is numb and minor cramping and burning in two toes next to the big toe. Top of foot is basically on fire most of the time extending to about 3-4 inches below the knee and the outside of the calf. Pain levels in this leg average from a 1-2 in the morning to a comfortable 3-4 at the end of the day with out pain meds.

L Foot is partially numb from the arch forward and all five toes. There is some minor burning in the toes sometimes but rarely. My left ankle and parts of my calf are partially numb. The symptoms in this leg are a mirror image of the right leg plus someone was kind enough to insert a wire and heat it up to a million degrees in my calf. Pain levels in this leg average from a 2-3 in the morning to 4-5 at the end of the day with out pain meds. There have been times that the hot wire has reached higher pain levels of a 7 or 8 if not managed appropriately.

I also experience muscle spasms and cramps in both legs 24/7.

Unfortunately, I've been striking out on taking the nerve drugs (Lyrica, Cymbalta, Neuronton). I am currently taking a new one, which the name escapes me right now which is not a good sign. I currently live on 30mg of oxycodone and zanaflex a day to manage a normal existence. My pain levels sit are around a 1-3 with a grey existence.

I go to work every day. I do what I want, when I want, no matter what. I do however lose sleep and I'm very tired. In comparison to others, I don't seem to be real bad off, but I'm also not living life on my terms anymore. I'd like to recapture some of my focus and get off the narcotics or at least decrease them enough to make the grey go away.

I'd be interested in hearing thoughts from those who have previously traveled in my shoes.




  • October '08 I was inplanted w/ the ANS (Advanced Neuromodulation System) same as SCS...it is a spine stimulator. I am the first case srudy in ARKANSAS with this particular set up.
    I have a dual stimulator that controls my back and leg pain both!!! I would have to say it is GREAT!!!! I am not saying I am 100% back to the old me but I am able to live life!!
    I went from being down 24/7 and so heavily medicated to rarely popping a muscle relaxer!! THAT IS A MIRACLE!!
    I have had 2 surgeries so far on this unit alone...1st--the install...2nd--replaced a lead with a hole in it!!The second surgery obviously wasn't forseen but had to be done to remove that faulty wire and replace it with a new one.
    I recently started having an issue with the "BATTERY" in my bum...it has migrated/dislodged from the original install and I have lost weight that may have contributed to the move??!!???
    I am currently awaiting surgery #6 to remove this LARGER ANS battery and install the ANS EON MINI!!! The current battery is HUGE!! About 2" x 2" x 3/4" thick....not small at all...the new one will be 1/2 that size.
    In my own personal opinion....GO FOR IT!!! Wish you luck in your decision and I hope u can find a peace of mind about the whole thing!! GOOD LUCK & GOD BLESS!!
  • certainly seem to be the kind that could helped by a spinal cord stimulator viz, nerve pain in legs. There are many of us here who have stimulators with varying degrees or relief. I suggest you type "spinal cord stimulator" in the SEARCH area and you will find many, many discussions of this topic. Susan (My stim is the ANS Eon Mini with paddle leads installed early April of this year.)
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  • I say...go for the stimulator!
    On the 4th. of this month(June) I had my permanent SCS implant and am very happy with it.
    Remember Dave....it is NOT a cure. What you do is trade one sensation(pain) for another sensation(tingling). With the stimulator it is hoped you will be able to reduce the amount of pain medication you are currently taking.
    I have savage pain in my feet and legs below my knees. The stimulator has reduced my leg pain by 90%( i noticed yesterday some leg pain was breaking thru) and my foot pain by 60%. I still take narcotics for my pain but in a much lower dose than I was. Could I manage without the pain meds? NO I could not!! But with the stimulator and the meds I have my life back!!
    Best of luck to you Dave....
    Patsy W
  • Patsy,

    Do you mind me asking what type of pain do you have in your legs? I'm aware that everyone is different, but I'm also trying to gauge where I stand in comparison to others.


  • The pain in my feet and legs is caused by nerve damage in my Lumbar spine...L4& L5
    The best way I can describe my leg pain is like they have Ace bandages wrapped around them as tight as you can wrap it. My foot pain burns and throbs. I have no shooting pain. The pain down the front of my legs and the tops of my feet seems worse. I can't stand anything tight around my anckles or across the tops of my feet such as socks or lace up shoes.
    The stimulator has helped that pain but I still have a lot of pain on the soles and sides of my feet. It feels like I am walking on sharp stones barefoot. I depend on naecotics and my implant to control my pain.
    Hope this poor description help you.
    Patsy W
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  • Patsy,

    Thank you for your candor. As you can can tell in my above descriptions of my pain levels, they're not overly high. I struggle with how I should proceed when I read of others who are in so much more worse shape than I. I do understand about not wanting anything touching my legs. When I arrive at work every day, I close my door and take my pants, socks, and shoes off, and put on a pair of shorts to wear while I'm in my office. It's rather inconvenient, cause when ever I have to go anywhere, I have to get dressed again. It's become a running joke in my office to knock and ask if I'm decent, prior to entering.

    You're Ace bandage feeling is more like a tightness inside my legs for me. I do get the burning pain but it has never throbbed for me. The burn is more of a sting in its milder stages, much like a severe sun burn.

  • The SCS is an experience unto itself, it is mostly reported that a buzzing,tingling sensation is felt when the unit is blocking pain. But, there are many levels of settings and each individual is different.

    You really need to experience a trial to have an idea as to if it is going to help you, if you can and will accept the sensations. Remember it can always be turned off by you at any time.

    The biggest risk is infection. It is not a cure it is simply a treatment. Many people that report your type of pain do very well with an SCS. Mine is for shoulder pain and currently I need some programming work to see if I can get better coverage.

    There are a LOT of posts to be found searching under SCS.
  • I too use spinal cord stimulation to help with pain. I agree with my friends here. You need a trial to determine if the SCS is right for you. The trial is very easy and will give you the opportunity to "test drive" the system. Most patients have to have a psych. evaluation before proceeding with the SCS. I was not required to have that. I believe they are looking for depression. Have you talked to your doctor about the "grey" feeling? Pain does have a way of making us feel down. Also, like Wrambler said, not everyone likes the sensation of stimulation. It does not bother me. During the trial If you have a 50% reduction in your pain it will be considered successful. Some people have way more relief. Look at Patsy. She is doing great. Extremity pain is usually helped a great deal. My arm pain is reduced about 80%. My shoulder blade pain is not helped at all. Some of my head pain is covered. (I need further programming)
    I have severe muscle spasms and the SCS does not help me with those. I will probably always need to take medication to help with that. The permanent surgery is not easy. The recovery takes a long time and things can go wrong. However, I am happy to have my two SCS implants. They are helping me have a better quality of life.
    I wish you all the best!

  • I've read the majority of the past posts already. I've been a member of SH for a very long time, dating back several versions of the forum.

    Melissa, the grey feeling that I get is what the prescriptions do to my thinking. They slow everything down like a rainy day in your head. I use my head to make a living, so needless to say the scripts get in the way sometimes. I'm actually a fairly happy go lucky guy. Just fallin a part at the seams.

  • You had read the posts, so I can only add you have nothing left to do but decide.

    Is it worth the trial to see if it will work for you?

    Once you get past that you can decide if the results of the trial warrant the permanent version.

    Even though I currently do not have the coverage I need. I do not regret going forward with the permanent. I may be just an adjustment away from relief again. Maybe not. That is the chance we all take.

    I go in on Thursday to see my PM. I hope they can get things "better"...
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