Posted in Chronic lower back pain

Decision Reached – Spinal Cord Stimulator

I’m back! And I made a major decision two weeks ago with my pain management doctor. I told him I wanted the Spinal Cord Stimulator removed from my back. He looked at me intently and asked, “Why?”

Then I went through my list of prepared reasons:
1- it doesn’t work
2- my pain has increased and the SCS isn’t even touching the pain
3- the battery bothers me
4- little strikes of pain are felt along my spine

He smiled and said, “Okay.” The reason for his question, he explained, was most patients begin to give reasons for wanting the Stimulator removed and realize they don’t have a valid reason. The SCS helps them at some percentage (the best results say 50% pain is removed) and they decide to leave it in.

However, with me it’s a different story. The trial for the SCS went great. One lead was inserted in my right side and left in my back for 5 days. I had no pain on my right side. But my left side hurt continuously.

When the right lead was removed, all my pain returned and I knew this was the product for me! Finally, quality of life would return and I would dance again.

Unfortunately, after the implantation of three leads and the battery pack, and numerous reprogramming… my pain has been with me every day since the surgery. In fact, it has increased. I didn’t enjoy the relief I received from the trial. Why? Nobody knows. But it would have saved a heck of a lot of money and discomfort if that darn trial hadn’t work.

I’m not saying it doesn’t work for everybody. Just me. It works for my husband. His SCS gives him about 30% decrease in his back pain with medication. (Yes, even with the SCS most patients take medication to manage their pain.)

I’ve read countless reports of how the SCS “gave me my life back” and I did my research prior to the trial. I didn’t go into this without thorough information. Yet, it didn’t work.

How do you know if the SCS will work for you? First, I would suggest you have the same doctor perform the trial and the actual implant. (It took half a dozen doctors before I found one who agreed to do the surgery due to the instrumentation in my back.) If you have the same doctor do both procedures, and I believe in most cases that is the correct approach, then you’re ahead of the game I played.

Secondly, research, research, research! Talk to other patients who have had the SCS implanted. Try to find people with similar back problems, and ask them a ton of questions.

And lastly, depending upon the Spinal Cord Stimulator Company your doctor uses, go to their website and read the reviews, find out what to expect, and ask questions on their site. Most companies have a patient forum but if you can’t find one, Google – Spinal Cord Stimulator Patient Forums.  These are the ones I found:   —  this one came up when I clicked on Boston Scientific Spinal Cord Stimulator/Right Leg
And there are many more forums listed…
As with any medication you are prescribed, you look it up, check out the side effects, and read the reviews before taking the medicine. With the proposal of a Spinal Cord Stimulator, treat it as you would a new medication.
I’m having the battery pack removed, not the leads because they have adhered to my spine. But when I talk to the surgeon and have the surgery, I’ll let you know how it went. Until then….
Here’s hoping you feel better today than yesterday and even better tomorrow!
God bless,