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Trying to decide if SCS is for me

dryflydryfly Posts: 23
edited 06/11/2012 - 7:46 AM in Spinal Cord Stimulation
Hey guy's....first post, I just found the forum. A real brief bit about me: I'm a 39 year old Paramedic, have been out of the field for years but starting to get back into it. I've had a fusion L4-L5-S1 and a a kyphoplasty at T12 (separate accident.) Been living with pain that somedays is mild to others when it's severe (on my feet for several hours without being able to take a break.) My pain mngmt MD thinks I'm a good candidate for the SCS and I'm going back to talk about scheduling the procedure in a couple of weeks.

I guess my question is, are you guys living an active lifestyle after having this thing implanted? I'm bending and lifting with my job obviously, MD seem's to think this will be ok. Other thing is, should I be in severe pain ALL the time to need this device? Some day's I'm ok, but when I'm really on the go for hours on end it can be horrible.



  • Welcome to Spine Health. I think the real answer to your question, is that no one really knows for certain. This is a quote from the latest monthly publication put out by one of the top SCS manufacturers ...
    Avoid activities requiring excessive twisting or stretching that put undue stress on the implanted components. This could lead to damage or movement of parts and a loss of stimulation.
    My personal experience has been one of mixed results. I've had my permanent SCS for about 2.5 years now. At first my pain management doc who implanted my SCS told me that after the initial 6-8 weeks of post op restrictions that I could go back to doing whatever I wanted.

    So I went back to working, diving and working out at the gym (which included yoga). I wound up tearing the anchors loose that secure the leads and hold my strain relief loops in place. After having surgery to repair that, my same doc told me to avoid doing yoga, because obviously the stretching and bending had caused my problems.

    I can say that I do lead a very active life with my SCS. I am very aware of how much I bend, twist or lift. I can feel when I do too much, because it causes inflammation around my wires and anchors. The key though is that I can control what and how much I do and modify if and when it's necessary. As an EMT, you don't have that luxury. You have to not only act, but react and do so without thought or concern as to whether or not you will damage your biggest pain management tool.

    However, it's one of those things where we all kind of have to find our own way and define our own limits. I just have to keep in mind, that if I damage my SCS, I lose my ability to function. It is a critical piece of my pain management and without it I would be unable to function.

    Your question about whether or not you should be in severe pain all the time before considering an SCS ... well ... My personal observation has been, that unless a person is in tremendous pain constantly, they don't develop the type of appreciation needed to overcome the restrictions having a medical implant places on their life. Had I not tried everything under the sun to manage my pain, I would not have the respect for my SCS that I do today.

    If you go through a trial, you will get the opportunity to see if this is something you want to consider. Even if you decide not to go ahead with the permanent implant at this time, at least you will know for future reference if spinal cord stimulation works for you.

  • I see you read the same monthly publication I did!

    That has indeed been my biggest "issue" with work. A PM assistant that says, oh, do anything you want. however when I ask specifics, he says, oh you should not do that repetitively! So, then he would not completely fill out a medical form! Work here is rather disjointed and strange as I was called the 2nd week of November, Last year and the case worker said she would speak with her boss and let me know what they were going to require in 2 days. I have never heard from them again. I have since found out that case worker has left. So, somewhere there is an incomplete medical form in my file that no one seems to know about, except for me and my boss and co-workers.

    I know that rambles on a bit, but it just goes to show what strange things can occur.

    I try to be careful, and like you, my wires and such let me know when I have done to much. I would think an EMT might have some real issues performing some of the tasks I have seen them do. Not trying to scare anyone, just sayin, it is a commitment you do not ignore or walk away from unless you are willing to have it removed and go back to the before conditions.
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  • I'm a registered nurse that was working in ICU. I was in severe pain nearly all the time. I had the stim. placed, and I can't use it at work. Everytime I cough, move to do something, etc. I get shocked. I've been reprogrammed a couple of times, and the doc said that everything was fine on the Xray with placement. However, this continues. Medtronics says it's normal. I can't work in this much pain, and I can't work with the stim. on. It's put me on short term disability again... and I'm not happy. I don't use the stim. much at all because of the buzzing in my legs. I have issues with having nerve problems in my legs anyway and balance. I can't walk right with my legs buzzing like this all the time. So I'm done with work. I'm very unhappy with how things turned out.

    It may go better for you, but you're doing an active job. I can't be depended on with my stim. on because there's NO WAY I could do CPR with it on, and to turn it off you have to stick the thing down your pants to put it up to the battery (they put mine in a buttock). I was trying to use it, but having to run into the bathroom to adjust it, turn it on and off depending on the spasms it was causing, etc. In the end, I can't do that kind of job with it on.
  • Thanks for the replies guys. I don't know what to think about this procedure, I know I'll have allot of question for the MD when I go back on the 24th for the pre-trial appointment. The device my MD uses is the one made by ST. Jude. They have this program setup so you can talk to patients that have had the procedure done. I'm waiting to hear back from a couple of these folks.
  • i had an ANS (St Judes) implant done 14 months ago. It takes about 1 year before you can do alot of lifting and bending. The key to the implant is to have it reprogrammed as often as needed until you can live with the stimulation. I am on my feet 8-10 hours a day. I really do not feel the stim until i sit down and relax. You must get a good repore with your Rep so that the implant will work as you want. The thing to remember is that every body is different. So what works for me or others may not work for you. My SCS has helped ease roughly 60% of my pain. The thing that hurts me the most is I do not have the energy i once had. While the trial is short lived, I say at least try it. You have nothing to lose.
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