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Spinal Cord Stimulators and Allergic Reactions

JeffreyJJeffrey Posts: 3
edited 06/11/2012 - 7:52 AM in Spinal Cord Stimulation
Given that .01% of Spinal Cord Stimulators (SCS) have been found to lead to allergic reactions, I am starting a forum to address this issue. Perhaps some individuals who are experiencing irritation, pain, rash, or any abnormalies have not reported because the SCS is relieving chronic pain.

I am a newbie.

History: Disabled Veteran. 1978-honorable discharge with a 10% disability due to a 30 ft. fall while in Ranger School, Mountaineering, Ft. Frank D. Merrill, Dahlonega, Georgia.

We were crossing a 30 ft. drop canyon on a 3-rope bridge that was over 100 ft. long. I was last and in the middle when someone became afraid and jumped off to safety on the bank. This caused a snaking action that caused all four of us to be flipped out and hanging on for dear life. We got back in, but everyone jumped when they reached the bank causing the same action. I hand-walked as close as I could, swung, then jumped but did not make the bank. I landed on my feet, mostly the R foot, and executed a parachute landing fall. Both legs swelled and I lay in bed taking Tylenol III for three days until medivaced out.

I have had pain in R foot for over 35 years with VA prescribing 8 to 10 875mg Motrin daily. In 1985 I was diagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome. Doctors began trying a long list of medications that either caused severe bleeding, severe reactions like trembles, or no help. In 1994 I was prescribed narcotics reluctantly by my doctors. In 1994 I had hemorrhoid surgery, began bleeding and finally controlled in 1996. I have had two more (2001 and 2005) hemorrhoid surgeries and still have problems. Opiates are the only medications I can take that help with pain and seem to help my hemorrhoid problems.

In 2003 my L5/S1 discs ruptured and had fusion surgery. On the way home from the hospital a truck ran into the back and totaled our car. I also had pins put in my R and L SI joints with the R side fused.

Both legs swelled and I was diagnosed with Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS). I was treated at the Shepard Center in Atlanta for over a year with nerve blocks every one to two weeks. A trial spinal stimulor could not control my pain. The CRPS was controlled down to my R leg from the knee down with a damaged nerve root at L5 that causes R foot pain at the ankle. The lumbar fusion was considered as a failed surgery.

Also, due to the wreck, I had knee surgery, bilateral inguinal hernia repair, R hand trigger finger surgery from using a walker, pudendal nerve entrapment surgery, and a broken coccyx that stays inflamed.

Presently, I take oxycotin, Dilaudid, Soma, and Parafon Forte as prescribed by my pain doctor.

Rather than increase the dosage of these medications After a trial during the week of Christmas 2010, I requested that the Ion implant be installed. Five weeks ago it was installed with the three-lead paddle and the IPG in R butt cheek.

The IPG site began burning after 4 days, spreading down covering my entire R thigh with spasms running down my thigh and one running down to my groin. After using for a week CHRPS returned to my L leg after a 6-year remission.

After 4 weeks (last week), I demanded the IPG be removed and a different one installed in my L butt cheek. This happeded on Monday. Now, on Wednesday, my entire L butt cheek feels like a branding iron is against it. I can tell that this is spreading also. I will wait this out hoping this burning pain subsides. There is no redness and tests do not show infection.

Does anyone understand my delimma? Am I having an allergic reaction to the IPG?


  • Allergic reactions to the SCS components are incredibly rare. Spreading of CRPS as a result of surgery is not.

    When you hear hooves, think horse not zebra. ;-)

  • Understand your delimma? Dude you are a train wreck. Sounds like if you had no bad luck, you would not have any luck at all. I had only 2 trials with scs but did not help so it was not put implanted of course. I have heard of some people reject it after its put in. Is it posible you are rejecting it? Alex
    Flexicore ADR 2004 resulting nerve damage l4l5 Fusion 2006 same level, 2009 hardware removal with lami !
    2012 scs implant ,
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  • My reaction to the SCS was much milder than yours. It made me itch all over. And I just plain felt bad. I had to drag myself around with no energy.

    The itching drove me bonkers but that is still not as bad as your reaction. I felt so much better once it was removed and all the itching stopped.

    I now have a pain pump implant and am doing fine with it. Both devices are made of titanium(sp?) but the rest are different materials. The pump has a catheter and the SCS has leads.

    I do hope you find out what your problem is.
    Good luck
    Patsy W
  • What is the difference between allergic reaction and body rejection?

    Could they be the same?
  • That's a good question. I am not sure of the answer but....

    I would think the if your body was rejecting something, like an implant, the reaction would be much more severe than an allergic reaction.

    Sometimes there is an remedy for an allergic reaction but not so if your body is rejecting something.

    If your body is rejecting something the only thing you can do then is to have what ever it is removed.

    But I am not a Doctor and could be wrong about this. Just giving my opinion.

    Best of luck to you.
    Patsy W
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  • That's a good question. I am not sure of the answer but....

    I would think the if your body was rejecting something, like an implant, the reaction would be much more severe than an allergic reaction.

    Sometimes there is an remedy for an allergic reaction but not so if your body is rejecting something.

    If your body is rejecting something the only thing you can do then is to have what ever it is removed.

    But I am not a Doctor and could be wrong about this. Just giving my opinion.

    Best of luck to you.
    Patsy W
  • I had my implant done in Dec 2010 and my surgical sites still hurt. the battery site hurts/burns the worst. The lead site is still tender. had to get a bigger bra size just to keep the straps from being to tight.. ( i know - TMI) my doc finally sent me to an allergist to see if that was the problem. The allergist couldnt see how i could be allergic to it because of the materials it was made of. therefore, he informed my pain mgmnt doc that it wasnt allergy related.

    I personally think my body is rejecting this unit, but who am i to think that???
  • Hi,
    I had a SCS implanted in Nov 2011. My Dr used a form of Dermabond to close the outer layer of skin. I developed a delayed raised, itchy rash around both incisions about a month after my surgery. We couldn’t figure out what had caused it. It was CRAZY, itchy and lasted for quite a while. In April, my Dr. had to go back in and do a minor revision and he again closed both incisions with a form of Dermabond. Well, this time the reaction didn’t take long at all to occur and within a couple hours of him closing the raised, hive-like-rash had developed on both of my incisions. It took over a month and a half for it to totally go away (3 steroid injections, several oral anti-itch drugs, and LOTS of patients). I was just wondering if you had considered the possibility of your being allergic to any of the other materials (other than the device) used during the surgery? My reaction definitely delayed my healing and my feelings about the overall effectiveness of the SCS for the first couple of months. Now I am glad that I stuck it out.
  • After reading all of this, I dont know whether I am going plain crazy or if my doctors just plain DONT CARE.

    Let me explain:
    -double inguinal hernia repairs in early 2005, both led to inguinal nerve entrapment.
    -3rd operation in early 2006, failed triple neurectomy on my Rside, leading to FAR worse pain.
    -4th and 5th operations: peripheral nerve stimulator trial and permanent implant...performed under not so accomodating conditions, leading to a staph infection 6 weeks later...
    -6th operation...staph infection of PNS unit and immediate emergency removal, leaving me with a giant hole to pack with gauze each day for 3 months until it healed on its own.
    -7th operation: 2nd attempt...2nd implantation of peripheral stim unit, IPG implanted through the EXACT incision from the first operation and the staph infection removal.
    -8th and 9th operations: trial and permanent implantation of spinal cord stim @ T11 with laminectomy/laminotomy for extra "trunk coverage" of widespread pain.

    SO NOW, I find out that my SCS battery and LEAD WIRES were BOTH RECALLED over a year ago...I was NEVER notified. I have begun to have massive right body paralysis attacks and cannot use the unit any more. But that is not the worst part...

    My peripheral unit, with the IPG implanted in my left abdomen, has begun to BURN with an intensity unlike ANYTHING I've ever experienced (and I worked in kitchens my ENTIRE life...steam burns, hot oil burns, melted sugar sticking to your skin burns...I've felt some BAD burns before). The burning has grown increasingly worse over the past 1.5 months, along with it, the SOFT TISSUE surrounding my IPG in my abdomen is DISAPPEARING. Im not talking about a little suspicion. The tissue is GONE...I can actually measure a DIFFERENCE each day over the past week, SO SIGNIFICANT, it would seem that I have a flesh eating bacteria inside of there...but FOCUSED directly around the IPG.

    I REQUESTED this system be EXPLANTED OVER SIX (6) months ago, yet...I am STILL WAITING for a surgery to be scheduled, EVEN in the face of my doctors SEEING the INSANE "dissolving" of tissue surrounding the unit. It becomes inflammed, red, hot...all the signs of infection, WITHOUT the actual infection (as determined by blood cultures). I asked for it out six months ago because it was beginning to "float" upwards and constantly rub on the base of my ribcage...you could imagine the pain that causes.

    NOW, not only do I deal with that pain, I can LITERALLY FEEL and LITERALLY SEE (each day, I take pictures that document the difference in tissue that has disappeared) my soft tissue/fat..and now, the MUSCLE is beginning to be affected (I cannot flex the muscle normally). As of today, the dissolving appears that it has successfully eaten through ALL the soft tissue and fat, and would appear; it is trying to make its way through my dermal tissue and GET OUT of my body. The concentration of this dissolving tissue is at the exact location where the lead wires exit the IPG. Coincidence of some sort?

    HERE IS THE KICKER: I had this implanted in late 2007/early 2008, somewhere around there. HOW is it, that over 3 years later, after NO obvious allergic reaction to the unit/metal alloy, am I now having this happen? Am I rejecting it? If so, WHY SO LATE? If this is NOT an allergy...could it be the result of something more sinister that has to do SPECIFICALLY with the system (the lead wiring connection point with the IPG/battery)?

    I know that most of you folks are seeking answers for your own issues and I CANNOT help but feel horrible that I cannot contribute to your dilemma, by providing any resources or direction. Trust me...I would normally know the answers!! I was even the "role-model" patient for this device company, I did commercials for them, media interviews, website patient story, and I was even their youngest patient ambassador (the elite group of a dozen patients who handle patient to patient communications for the company nationwide, as volunteers). SEE THE THANKS YOU GET for dealing with CORPORATE AMERICA, especially when something goes WRONG??!!

    I am not pointing any fingers, I dont think anyone did anything wrong...but I can say this: I dont think anyone is DOING ANYTHING, PERIOD. Its FAR worse to ignore a medical issue than it is to at least ATTEMPT to resolve it.

    Any advice, help, similar stories, theories...ANYTHING will help!! I would post a pic of the site, but I fear that many of the folks with weak stomachs may not feel too hot after seeing it.

  • I reported my allergic reaction to the spinal cord stimulator over a year ago.my allergic reaction almost killed me.I went into anaphalsic shock.I now have hypersensitivity and my immune system is out of whack.I did have the device (every bit of it) removed from my body but because o the severity of my allergic reaction I developed hypersensitivity and problems with my immune system.
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