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SCS... Is it like a TENS????

My surgeon is suggesting a SCS. I have a consult with the PM doc on July 26 and am really excited/curious/skeptical/hopeful, etc. I feel like I am putting a lot of faith in the SCS working for me, hoping and praying it allows me to at least reduce some of my pain meds. I know I will have a trial to see if it is going to help, before having it actually implanted, but am just wanting some info from others that have one already.

What type of sensation is it?

Is it like a TENS and you can constantly feel an electrical current?

Is it something that you are always aware of? Or do oyu get used to it and it is not so obvious?

The thing I am worried about is that I tried a TENS unit and did not like it too much. I talked to my surgeons asst last week when I made the appointment for the SCS consult and she said it really isn't like a TENS, but then I have heard others, on SH, say that they loved the TENS and that's basically why they love the SCS so much.

Any feeback is, as always, greatly appreciated!



  • backbback Posts: 190
    edited 07/16/2012 - 9:17 AM
    I've had my stimulator almost 3 years now. I've never used a TENS before so I really can't relate to that. I keep my stimulation pattern right at the point where you know its there and you don't know it. I equate the feeling to something like a manufactured tingling/buzzing in my legs. There are times when everything is right, I have the feeling of just before when your leg or hand goes to sleep or when it its wearing off. I do not like the stimulation strong. When its strong it just seems to lay on top of my pain giving me one more thing to focus on. It took me a long time, about 6 months to truly adjust to the feeling. It's not a bad thing, just took that long for me to no longer notice it. I run my stimulator 24/7. I charge twice a week and it takes about 2 1/2 hours to charge. From what I have read, I run my stimulator a little harder than everyone else. I love my stimulator and have no idea what I would do if I didn't have it.

    I hope this helps. Good luck with your trial.

  • MelWMMelW Posts: 427
    edited 07/16/2012 - 9:51 AM
    Thanks for the quick response. I am ready for the trial to see if it's going to work. I really can't wait!
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  • It sounds like you have had a very "hard row to hoe" up to now. I am so sorry for you. I love my tens - it helps a good bit. That being said, based upon my trial (which I had about a month ago) I would say that the stimulator is it's own therapy. I actually expected them to be more similar than they were. To be sure, the philosopy is the same. That is to say, both are based on the idea of interrupting the pain impulses being sent to the brain. From my perspective, a tens unit is more tactile and the scs was deeper down - much deeper down. In the first case, it feels like the tens unit sends signals to my muscles and helps them relax and in the second instance, the scs feels more like a buzzing that is much more internal and more gentle (for me.) It may be totally different for you.

    BUT, you tell ME what the downside is besides the hassle and inconvience???? Yes, there are dangers with any surgical procedure. But on the other hand, you have a rare opportunity to experience a therapy on a trial basis that just MIGHT be a game-changer for you and the people who love you. How great is that? You might hate it. It might not work at all! But at least you will have given it a try. My neurosurgeon, who I cannot name but his is one of the best reputations in the country according to numerous accounts and websites, suggested that in many cases the use of a spinal cord stimulator could be more often used INSTEAD of more invasive back surgery when the issue is pain rather than measurable instability and might be much more effective and much less invasive and less expensive compared to back surgery. My dad has lived happily with a pacemaker for nearly 20 years. Similar therapy in that he has a generator placed under his skin with leads to his heart. Sometimes I wish I could disconnect it for him(LOL) !!!!!!

    The trial helped me. I did keep a daily pain journal and if it would make you feel any better, I don't mind making the day-by-day comments available to you. It will take me the time to type it up but if it will help you decide, I will be glad to do it. Good luck. Keep us in the "loop." Kathy PS. I will be keeping a daily accounting of my actual implant beginning August 1st.

  • Thank you so much Kathy! If day-by-day comments are not too much to do, then I would be super appreciative to be able to read them. There is no such thing as too much info, as far as I am concerned. I am a big time researcher on everything, but getting info like that, directly from someone that has/is going through it, is priceless.

    I do totally agree about just the hassle and inconvenience. I am for sure going to give the trial a go, if the doc gives me the go ahead. I have nothing to lose but a little pain, possibly, which I already have; I can only gain from going ahead with a trial.

    One other concern, which you might be able to shed some light on... My pain is cervical, I do have arm pain, but a lot of neck pain. I have heard a lot of others say that the SCS mainly helps with radiculopathy pain, and not so much neck/back pain. When I have the arm pain, it is quite painful and irritating, but my neck pain is what is constant, all of the time no matter what. It would be awesome if it helps both, but I guess I need to take baby steps and take what I can get (although I would like to take big ole giant steps and feel alive again!!!) :-D

    Thanks again!
  • Another thing I thought about... How do you go about charging your battery? I see B., above, said twice a week for 2.5 hours, but do you have to be stationary to charge it?

    While I was doing some research online, I came across a blog and the individual on it said that if you let your battery die three times that it kills the battery and it will have to be replaced. This makes no sense to me??? I can totally see not letting the battery constantly run out of "juice," but I imagine that letting it die three times happens often, and that just doesn't sound appealing to have to have an additional surgery because of that. It could have easily been misinformation, considering I have only heard this from one individual in all of the research I have done. Just wanted to throw it out there to see if this is something others have been told.

    Thanks again and hope ya'll are having a pain free day!
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  • The battery dieing three times is a true statement. I've only gotten close once and that was when we changed my programs and they consumed more power than normal. I got lucky and only had to put my charger on and start charging to recover. I was so low that my remote wouldn't communicate with my IPG. If you let it run completely dry, your rep has to do a reset. Letting it run dry damages the IPG, so you'll have to charge more often once you do it. You can charge the battery as often as you like. If I wanted I could probably spread my charging sessions out every night and spend maybe 45-60 minutes a day charging.

    Are you scared yet? Don't be. Its just something that you have to manage. Trust me, you won't let this happen. The stimulator is part of you and you're not going to let that happen. I have a Medtronic SCS. The charger fits into a belt like device that I put around my waist. I can walk around the house and do light tasks while charging. I normally just sit down and watch TV for a couple of hours. If my eyes weren't so bad, I'd probably read a book. Charging is me time and I pretty much do what I want during that time.

  • Well, that is good info to know, thanks so much.

    No, not scared... Just want all the info I can get so I can make the best decision possible. I don't want any surprises :-) although every day seems to be a surprise for me, at times.

    That makes total sense about not draining your battery. And you are very right, it is a part of you and I would assume I wouldn't let that happen. I guess if I can always remember to make sure my cell phone is charged (godforbid my battery dies and I lose access to the internet and texting LOL :-D) then I sure better remember to charge myself!

    Thanks again!
  • It gives new meaning to "Charging my battery".


    "I feel run down."

  • LOL, very true :-)
  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 13,586
    but have had plenty of experiences with Tens units. I do enjoy more Tens unit, but it does fall somewhat short in terms of overall pain management. While I am using the Tens unit, any section that I am adhering it to, feels much better and I generally get relief for up to 36 hours.

    There are plenty of SCS members out here, I would single out "C" chagland , since is one of the more experienced SCS patients. From what I know about SCS (and I admit its little), is that you should get longer term relief from it and its not just a quick fix.

    Good luck
    Ron DiLauro Veritas-Health Forums Manager
    I am not a medical professional. I comment on personal experiences 
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