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Spinal Cord Stimulation FAQ's

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,322
edited 12/21/2015 - 6:29 AM in Spinal Cord Stimulation
Frequently Asked Questions (provided by Medtronic)

What are some of the possible complications that I should be aware of?
As with any implanted device, infection can occur. The lead, extension, or
neurostimulator could move within the body or push through the skin. There could
be undesirable changes in stimulation. It is also possible that the implanted materials
could cause an allergic or immune system response.
Your neurostimulation system might unexpectedly cease to function due to battery
depletion or other causes. These events, which can include electrical shorts or open
circuits, conductor (wire) fractures, and insulation breaches, cannot be predicted.

What types of activities can damage or move the lead?
You should know where your lead is placed and keep in mind which movements
may put strain on the lead or on the stitches that hold the neurostimulator in place.
Leads become dislodged primarily because of certain motions or sudden repetitive
Exercise and other activities should be approached with caution. Excessive or
repetitive bending, twisting, bouncing, or stretching can move or break the lead.
A lead can break or fracture due to action of nearby bones and ligaments. Although it
is made of flexible and durable materials, it is still subject to wear. Therefore, seemingly
harmless or repetitive movements can cause unseen damage over time, eventually
causing the lead to fracture. This damage may require surgery to replace the lead.

When should I call my physician about my neurostimulation system?
Consult with your physician if you:
• Experience additional or unusual pain.
• Notice unusual changes in the quality of your stimulation or if you
experience no sensation.
• Need to increase stimulation more often than normal.
• Notice that the stimulation pattern changes.

Will I be able to drive?
Yes. However, you should turn your neurostimulator OFF prior to driving to help
ensure safe operation of your car.

Are physical activities safe?
Most activities are safe. However, you should always follow your physician’s
instructions with regard to work, exercise, hobbies, or other activities.

What should I do about airport security and theft detectors?
Use care when approaching airport security and theft detection devices such as those
found in libraries and some department stores.
It can be helpful to show your device identification card. Request a hand search.
Security personnel may use a hand-held security wand, but ask them not to hold the
wand near the neurostimulator any longer than is needed.
If you must pass through the security screening device:
• Turn your neurostimulator OFF.
• Approach the center of the security device, and walk through normally.
• Proceed through the security device, keeping as far away as possible from
the gate(s). Do not linger or lean on the security device.
• After you pass through the security device, turn your neurostimulator ON
again to resume therapy.

Can I travel on an airplane?
Yes. Your neurostimulator should not be affected by airplane flights.

How will I know if my neurostimulator is working properly? What happens when the
battery runs out?

If you have a rechargeable device, you will be able to use the patient programmer to
find out when the battery in both the device and the programmer is low. If you have a
non-chargeable neurostimulator, your physician will be able to tell you the state of the
battery in your device during regularly scheduled follow-up visits. If your physician finds
that the battery in the device is low, he or she will discuss a replacement procedure.

Can I go in a hot tub, steam room, or sauna?
Yes, but if you feel any localized heat sensation around your neurostimulator, get out.

Can I scuba dive or enter a hyperbaric chamber?
Do not dive below 33 ft. (10 m) of water or enter a hyperbaric chamber above
2.0 atmospheres absolute (ATA). Exceeding these limitations can damage the
neurostimulator system. Before diving or using a hyperbaric chamber, discuss the
effects of high pressure on your neurostimulator with your physician.

Can I sky dive or participate in other high-altitude activities such as skiing or hiking
in the mountains, or flying in a non-commercial airplane?

High altitudes should not affect your neurostimulator. However, you should consider
the movements involved in an activity, and take care to not put undue stress on
your implanted neurostimulation system. For example, the sudden jerking that
occurs during skydiving when the parachute opens can dislodge or fracture the lead,
requiring additional surgery to repair or replace the lead.


  • Thanks You Very Much. I just had my SCS implanted on 7-13-10. So far so good. Discomfort now is only at the incisions. I just found the site on SCS and have been enjoy reading especally since I just had the surgery. I have been going though this since 04 and retired in 05. I have had numerous Epidurals, PT, but did not want any invasive surgery. I heard abt SCS and did a lot of research, with my combined insurances finally approved early this year. I enjoy this forum with the info abt SCS. Have to get back to my reading. Talk with you later.
  • can any one give me their opinions of this devis, I am going to have the implat trial on april 28, and just wanted some opinions. Thanks for reading ;)
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  • Hello
    Had the surgery done 2 weeks ago trial period,can anyone tell me how they are doing with theirs?
  • I have a medtronic SCS installed in April 2009. I had a a fall and the SCS started shoking me. I went in and PM doctor attempted to replace the leads. It was a failed surgery and now I'm going to Neurosurgeon to remove leads and replace with Paddle leads. He's doing the surgery as an outpatient. Can anyone give me an idea what the recovery time is and what to expect?
  • edited 02/11/2013 - 1:27 PM
    Had an SCS long term and had the intended results? I'm wanting to know more about this in lieu of a spinal fusion after failed back surgery.
    I am who I am!
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  • I had my Boston Scientific SCS placed in 2006. It has literally saved my job and household! I was nearly unable to work due to chronic pain from nerve damage to my arms. Unfortunately I have since developed severe arthritis (grade 3+ to 4- 4 being the worst with bone to bone with no cartilage) in my knees. In order to have the necessary treatment for that arthritis, eventually double knee replacement, I understand that an MRI image is the only way that the prosthesis can be accurately created. Has anyone else experienced this? Do I have any options to have a scan done that will work? Many of my ortho doctors are not familiar with SCS treatment and are not able to say what my options might be. Thanks!
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