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Anyone Have a neurostimulation implant?

edited 06/11/2012 - 7:49 AM in Spinal Cord Stimulation
Hello everyone,

I am new here, but not new to Back problems. Here goes the short story, Last year Back really started acting more than normal and the pain started going down left leg. after several spinal blocks that did not work neurosurgeon recommended disc fusion of L5-S1. Had the fusion done in Sept 09. finally returned to work (Truck Driver) in Nov 09.
Everything was going great until Feb of this year, The pain started up again, only this time worse than before, Had to quit working in June of this year due to not being able to drive and load and unload truck. Another MRI showed post operative defects at surgery location (Scar tissue and what little part of disc that was left in there bulging) So more rounds of physical therapy, did nothing, more spinal blocks, not effect,

Now Since I have been working with a new to me Neurosurgeon he had CT scan done, a EMG done, etc. Met with him today, and he is recommending having a neurostimulation implant put in to block the pain.

What are your experiances with this? he thinks I can get back to work my old job with no problems. I am not sure about that since I load and unload several times per eight hour shift.

I am leaning towards getting implant, just for the fact maybe I can get off the Narcotic pain killers.



  • Lots of members here who have an implant. There's not a lot of folks on here that were fused in place, most get an interbody fusion where they remove the disc. I take it the rest of your back is stable and you just have this residual pain in the butt. I have a similar history where I had L4-S1 fused. I developed Adhesive Arachnoiditis somewhere along the line, maybe before, during, or after. I only get about 40% relief with my stimulator, so its not perfect but it helps to keep the scripts down to a minimum. I'll be honest with you, your doctor might be a little optimistic of you going back to work driving a truck. I'm not saying its impossible, but optimistic. Over the last several months, my wife and I have been taking our oldest on college visits, so we've been doing lots of driving. It takes a lot out of me and I doubt I could hold up for the long haul if I had to do it everyday. The stimulator poses certain restrictions in that you have to be aware that you can pull a lead out of place, flip the IPG (battery), or a host of other problems.

    What prescriptions are you currently taking to help with the pain? Maybe there are some other options. Do you have a lot of nerve pain in the legs or do you have mostly back pain? Have they determined if the hardware is causing any problems via a block around the area? Have you scheduled a trial yet?

    Take your time and read this forum area. Lots of good information and the members that participate in this topic will definitely give you the good, the bad, and the ugly as it pertains to Spinal Cord Stimulation.

  • Dave,

    From the MRI, and CT scan, and all the X-rays that have been done, the NS says the spine is stable and the fusion part took. It is just the Scar tissue that is the main problem in both inside the spinal canal and on the outer left side of the spine.
    My pain is in the L5-S1 area and travels all the way down the left leg into the foot.
    For the pain they have me on a muscle relaxer ( cyclobenzaprine) and Hydrocodone, and to help me sleep they also have me on ambien. and yesterday the NS also gave me another script, but cant remember what it was, wife has the script in her purse and going to get it filled today.

    He gave me the info on the Medtronics implants yesterday and recommened the implant, I go back in Jan to discuss if I want to do the trial. Right now I am leaning towards doing so. I mean I have tried everything else upto and including surgery, and the bad thing is after the surgery i am worse than before.

    I know I may never be able to go back to driving trucks, But they are holding my job for me and I do hope that I will be able to go back. I was getting ready to fill out the disability retirement papers for my work, but I think I will now hold off on that until I see how this works.

    In the meantime I will be going ahead with my SSI Disability case. I have to get some kind of income coming in besides my wifes income.

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  • I'm glad that at least your spine is stable. That's important if you want to move forward with a stimulator. An unstable spine causes problems later on and in my opinion the stimulator will lose that battle. I took ambien for about a month, but I was so tired the next day that I just couldn't take it. I now take trazadone as a sleep aid and seriously consider it my miracle drug. Without it, I'd be a walking zombie.

    So, do you have any specific questions for the SCS crew?

  • I agree with Dave. But one other thing.The SCS is not a cure.It does help some people out. But remember. You will never be the sameas you once was. But you will be better off then you are now.As much as doing manual labor. For get it. I also apply for SSD got it the first time. If you need any more infor Get back to me. Iam not a DR just letting you know what is happening to me.


  • It seems like a trial couldn't hurt. I had the trial and it gave me enough relief to opt for the neurostimulator (just had the implant last week). I commute a long distance for my job and due to sciatic pain in my left leg and muscle atrophy driving is a real challenge for me but everyone is different. Technically you're not supposed to drive with the implant turned on although I am sure many do (as my doctor said when he gave me a scrip for dilaudid - so many people are driving while on dilaudid even though they are not supposed to - it didn't comfort me!).

    If nothing else you may find you get enough relief to make your self more comfortable and possibly could drive. Keep us posted.
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  • I do not believe you would be able to go back to work at your truck driving job with the SCS implant because of the loading and unloading. To much bending and lifting would cause the leads to slip out of place. Plus the SCS is posetional. Just turning your head can cause you to zap yourself. But once it scars in good it is not quite so bad.

    If the leads move you will no longer get the stimulation where you need it. The Doctor will have to go back in and replace the leads to their origional position. It can be fixed.

    I know the important thing is to be free of your pain and hopefully the SCS will provide that relief.
    Best of luck to you
    Patsy W
  • It's all a personal thing. Just how much you can and do actually do with an implant is really up to the each of us. The companies recommend not driving, because they don't want the liability if you were to be in an accident and blame it on the neurostimulator.

    Most of us have found that after a short bit, we get used to the stimulator and find settings that allow movement in most directions without causing the involuntary muscle movements that cause us to jerk in weird manners.

    I have a c-spine SCS and although it is positional, I have easily adapted to the different positions and use them to my advantage. I could not drive without my SCS. I wouldn't be able to hold my arms up in front of me and grasp the steering wheel. With my SCS I am able to drive several hours non-stop very comfortably and without the risk of involuntary movement.

    Each of us also find out just how much we can or cannot bend with our stimulators. I can do just about anything I want and when I feel it is causing irritation to my wires or anchors, I just back off on that activity. I am able to work stocking cases and cases of beer and wine. This includes reaching down to pick the cases up off the floor and lifting them up to eye level. I use proper body mechanics and let my legs do the majority of the work.

    So basically we are each responsible for our own lives and whether or not we choose to stay home and do nothing, or take advantage of the SCS therapy and get back into life. I was out of work for over 2 years and now I am back to working 2 part time jobs as well as training and riding my horse. I am even able to clean stalls, sweep and mop now. Without my SCS, I would not be able to walk more than a few steps, and certainly would not be able to drive or work.

  • I am 58 with 45 year history of scoliosis, kyphosis, lordosis. Fusion or L4-5 and L5-S1 with psudoarthorisis and spondylolisthesis at L5-S1. Retired on disability in 1999. Progressively getting worse with pain radiating down my right leg. First pain md said he wouldn't even touch me with my history, but my primary care MD won't give up. He thinks I would be a candidate for the neurostimulator or pain pump. The question is finding a doctor who will work with someone with such an extensive surgery history. Has anyone had a radiofrequency ablation? I'm also looking into that. Appreciate any feedback.
  • I am interested in more of your back history. I am looking into the stimulator or pain pump as I have a 45 year history of over 10 back surgeries, fusions, casts, braces and so on. Nothing works any longer. So I am interested in communicating with individuals who have had the implant and their success rate.
  • You write: "Lots of members here who have an implant."
    I wish more would post of their experiences with them.

    My current pain management doctor is pushing me to get one for chronic low back pain of over ten years now. I've had numerous procedures, therapies, injections, and drugs to the point of almost being comatose for a couple of years. I am now comfortable with taking 1/2 to 2 30-mg. tabs of morphine a day (don't ask me why it works; I don't know, but it works for me), which allow me to have a pretty normal life.

    I have had nothing but bad experience with invasive procedures (including two stents, two open hearts for a total of 3 bypasses - all which failed - after a heart attack from CAD), which include LASE discectomy in 2003 and another discectomy on L4/L5 and L5/S1 in 2008.

    I have no faith in doctors. I guess what I'm really looking for is info to back up why I don't want this implant. I believe that I will someday be drug free, but if I have the implant, I will never be free of that, nor the subsequent risk of infection, adjustments, new batteries, involuntary body movements (jerking),etc.

    I suspect that if I continue to say no to this procedure, my doctor will eventually refuse to prescribe my pain medication. It's extremely difficult to find a pain management doctor who will prescribe opiates for chronic pain here in FL ~ at least in my area.
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