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Question on SCS

My neurosurgeon has suggested a St Jude SCS but he first wants me to have another MRI to make sure there is room in my mid back for it. Did anyone else have to do this? I am a bit fearful of the closed MRIs and the last one they had to stop and do an open because my panic level ...well got ridiculous I must embarrassely admit.

I have such extreme low back/leg pain and reading these forums gives me hope. I have not had any surgeries as they are not sure it will fix the problem and thus want me to try this. I have done the typical...steriod shots, physical therapy and etc. Honestly, I would much rather try this over low back surgery.

Do most people really get great relief from it?

Thank you for responding to my questions in advance.


  • I am getting my trial soon, but mine is for cervical. I have read, and know, many people that have had great relief from a SCS for lower back pain, especially leg pain. Everyone is different though... Just like have spine surgery. One person may have a fusion and have no problems, life goes on, and then there's me, and many others on this site, that have had fusion(s) and have a life time of problems from it. Here is the link to her journal (http://www.spine-health.com/forum/treatment/spinal-cord-stimulation/scs-implant-surgery-journal-candiddetailedlong-promised). I think Kathy's is cervical/thoracic, but it is still a great tool and very informative.

    The good thing is that you do get a trial period (too bad you can't get a fusion trial!!!), then, if it works well for you, you get the permanent implant.

    It doesn't hurt to give it a try and see what kind of relief you get. I have heard many say (including my PM doc) that if you are not getting at least 50% pain reduction, with the trial, then they will not implant the permanent one.

    I do not have specifics on having a SCS, as I am still waiting to get my trial, but I have been doing all the research I can, plus Kathy (SH member) has been giving a day-by-day journal of her SCS experience. It has been the most helpful out of anything I can even find on the web.

    Take care!

  • RickilalasRRickilalas Posts: 559
    edited 09/07/2012 - 8:02 PM
    SCS or surgery what a question. I know people that have had surgery and come out pain free and I know people that have had surgery and wished they hadn't. I have had six spine surgeries and would do each again if I had too.
    I have a lumbar SCS and it saved my life. It covers from my lower back to my toes with the exception of a new pain in one ankle which now appears to be from my neck issues so being above the paddle it won't help me there.
    Last night my battery went down to a level that it shut down. I woke up and felt like I had been hit by a car. Hooked up to the charger and turned the unit back on while recharging and felt fine in about 30 min.So It proved again how much it helps.

    My personal feelings on spine surgery is that in most cases it stops the problem from progressing farther and depending on the problem stops further nerve damage but doesn't fix the nerve damage that has been done.
    Its true with time some nerves will repair but in my case I had problems for 20 years before I finally got help and was left with nerve damage and cervical çord damage that will never repair. This is where I hope stem cell testing keeps moving forward.

    Have you been seen by other surgeons for their thoughts Have you asked and know what problem you do have and if a SCS will help the pain will the origanal problem get worse or is it stable and will do no further damage. I have always been led to believe that the SCS or a pain pump are the last resort to use after everything else was done first. My insurance Co said I had to have surgery PT and pain management before they would cover it. But every case is different.

    Then those dang MRIs which I can't do now because of the implant. With my unit I can only have a MRI of the brain and that has to be on a newer type of machine. Now I have CTs with contrast and after seeing the film I think they are better quality then a MRI but there is a lot or radiation exposure. Everything has a cost. When I did have MRIs I learned who had the larger machines so they didn't stuff me into a tight tube and I learned to shut my eyes before going into the tube and pretend you are some where else, the beach worked for me. I must have had 8 or more and the last two I fell asleep for most of it and missed it LOL. Do what you have to and if you didn't they can premed
    you with doctors OK in advance.

    Good Luck and I hope they find something that helps you
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  • I just wanted to toss in a few more question you might ask about the brands. I feel they are all good but have some differences regarding their remotes and how they work and more important to me is how long the baterry will last both in how long the charge last and the life of the battery before it needs replacement. I get about two weeks use on mine before a recharge and it is said to last almost nine years before replacing is needed. I have three reps I can call and generally see them the next day if needed. What support does St Jude have? If I get my second unit We might try Boston sci. I think it would be nice to have both to really compare them. My doctors use all three. I think the comparison would be fun but medtronics has treated. Me so good maybe I should stay with them. I also feel that the skill of the surgeon makes more difference then the manufactur does just MHO. OK last thought tonight there are still some non rechargable units out there being used and they can last about two years and I would have a hard time doing that and having surgery more often to replace then a rechargable. My unit has a newer longer lasting rechargable battery. I use it 24 hrs a day and recharge time all at once is about 5 hours every two weeks
    Good Luck

    Take care
  • Thanks for your replies. They told me the St. Jude will last about 10 years. I have had two opinions thus far on my low back and neck. What I am hearing is the arthritic growths on my low spine don't appear to be that bad, yet one day I was fine and the next day it felt like my life was over. I have been dealing with chronic low back pain since April. I knew I had degeneration of the low spine. All I know is I have extreme low back, leg weakness/aches, sciatic pain and etc. It has affected my life greatly. I have cried more in the last 4 to 5 months than I have my entire life I think. My work is affected and just about everything causes awful pain.

    One neurosurgeon told me to lose weight to get to 35 BMI and all my problems would go away. The other one tells me he isn't sure losing weight or having the surgery will fix my issues. I have had 2 CTs of the belly, seen a urologist, seen a gyn and etc.

    Not only do I have pain in my back/leg and buttocks, but often sharp pains in my belly and deep vaginal pain. When my back really hurts..all those things flare with it. Anyone else have this?

    My neck they say can be fixed with surgery. They just don't seem to think removing the arthritic growths on my low spine will help. I have so much nerve pain I just cry. Car rides are horrible...sitting for any length is almost impossible, and well you know the story.

    I have tried steriod injections which really flared it up and pt ...well was horrible. Traction made the pain so much more extreme. I don't' know what to think.

    So my neuro suggested the SCS as he wasn't sure surgery would resolve my issues. He also wants to see my CT scans. I have had two recently and they showed nothing. All these pain meds and etc have given me gastritis which is really awful...so I would benefit from lessening them. I can't take pain patches due to side effects I had with one.

    I would appreciate any feedback. As sometimes I just feel lost. I am getting so much different information.

    Thank you

  • kathyykkathyy Posts: 586
    edited 09/11/2012 - 3:04 PM
    Generally speaking, getting a good 2nd and 3rd opinion won't hurt. I am a Medtronics girl. I have rarely experienced as much care and concern as they have given. Plus, I believe their "adaptive stimulator" is one of the more advanced. Not sure on that, tho. Of course, all of the brands have their benefits. My problem is centered on my L4-L5 area with leg and "saddle" pain. Primarily the result of an unexpectedly large tumor in my lower back area that took hours to dissect and also caused a great deal of blood loss.

    I will suggest that if you have any concerns, you seek another opinion. What is the downside besides the inconvenience of time and perhaps the cost of an office visit.

    And now the tough part......your bmi can really impact not just your pain but also your outcome of this surgery. Give it some thought and ask other docs. Don't know how they arrived at your current bmi but I do know that I was cautioned about it.

    There is NOTHING worse than chronic pain. My scs is really helping me regain my life but it isn't perfect. There are still some days that I hurt and that is that. It well may be an answer. Have you addressed having the "trial?" That would be the best way to start, I would think.

    I hurt for you. Let me know if I can share any other info. Kathy
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  • MJMcDevittMMJMcDevitt Posts: 71
    edited 09/11/2012 - 4:10 PM
    Was supposed to get a SCS this month. Doctor wanted an MRI of my middle back because that is where they put the paddles. I am VERY clousterphobic (sp?). I couldn't even take the open MRI's. I have found that valium does wonders. I take two 5 mg before I leave for the MRI and one when I get there. 2 years ago I got one on my lumbar spine and when I got the bill I told my wife that they charged me for a MRI with contrast and I didn't have any contrast. My wife looked at me like I was nuts and said they took me out of the machine, inserted and IV and put me back in the machine, I didn't remember that part. Good drugs!
    I am not getting the surgery because the surgeon said that he wanted me to get injections at L1-L2 and L2-L3 to see if I got any relief. Well I DID! so the surgery has been cancelled and now i will have Rizotomies (sp?) at both levels on Sept 21. Hope it works!

  • Matt
    I have had some cervical RFs done that have worked for almost a year now. My lumbar RFs didn't last much at all.
    But the injections are a good test to show if they will work. SCS or a pain pump should be the last resort so I hope the RF works for you and saves you from going through anything else. It may help others if you keep track of the time and the amount of help it gives you.
    Good Luck
  • I have the St. Judes Eon rechargeable SCS. I also have extreme compression in the area they had to put the leads. I ended up having what they laughingly referred to as pediatric leads. Your spinal canal is suppose to be like 14 mm wide and mine was only like 6mm wide and now even smaller with the leads in place. I do have to be extra careful for longer than most SCS patients but I feel it is worth it not to be on all the medications. I have bn trying to come on nightly and check things out but if you want to PM me that is fine, I would b glad to try and help
  • Jerome001Jerome001 Cocoa Beach, FloridaPosts: 118
    I had mine implanted in early February this year. It helps with my pain in my lumbar and thoracic regions and I have 3 leads that are dispersed in the two areas along with several programs that I can alternate through to get the best result. I get pretty good coverage but it is not absolute so keep that in mind as you proceed. My implant was fairly quick - in and out in just a few hours as an outpatient surgery procedure. And, there was only minor pain related to the surgery too. I have had a couple of issues with the SCS since the initial implant as the battery/generator was in my lower left back and it moved over against my spine. I had another surgery to move the batter/generator to my abdomen and a "connector" module was placed were the generator/battery was previously as the wires were too short to reach the relocated batter/generator. Then, Tuesday of this week, 2 days ago, I had another surgery to relocate the batter/generator as it too migrated against my spine which hurt like the dickens. Today is my second day post op and I'm managing ok but I hope that is the last time I have to have follow-on surgery because of migration. My doc says I'm "special" as he has done hundreds of SCS implants and I'm the only one that had a migration issue. I'm fairly lean in my back side and the doc says it is more difficult when there is not enough fat to lodge the equipment. All in all, my SCS implant was basically a non event and I was in and out of the hospital in a few hours. I was alone at home too which made it a little harder as I had to do everything for myself. Good luck with your procedure.
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