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Thread: Spinal Cord Stimulator

  1. #1
    Senior Member mike's Avatar
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    Spinal Cord Stimulator

    My central nerve pain has gotten pretty bad and considering the side effects of the medicines I am now taking,increasing the dosages does not look like a good option. My doctor is now suggesting that I try a spinal stimulator. This is the unit made by Medtronics. Has anyone tried one of these units and gotten any relief. Were there any side effects worth considering?

    mike

  2. #2
    Senior Member alan's Avatar
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    I had on for a year, with three revisions of the stimulator position. Didn't help anything. In my opinion, if the stimulator wire can't be positioned above your injury site (they couldn't get past mine, so all three placements were below), it's not worth trying. After all, if the cord is being stimulated below the injury, the message doesn't get to your brain.

    Your mileage may vary, and they do test it before implanting the stimulator, so you may want to do the test to see if they can get past your injury and get you some relief.

  3. #3
    Senior Member mike's Avatar
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    Thanks Alan

    I have not heard of anyone having a satisfactory result either. Sometimes you feel like trying anything to get rid of the pain.

    mike

  4. #4
    Senior Member alan's Avatar
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    Did your doc suggest a pump with morphine and bupivicaine?

  5. #5
    You're right, Mike, about being willing to try just about anything for the pain. I have C7-T11 syringomyelia (cyst in the cord) and T8-10 spinal cord tumor (that's been taken out.) Having my cord cut open to remove the tumor is why I have spinal cord injury, as well as the cyst. I have a lot of trouble sitting, so I'm going to get to the point. In order to get well above my level of injury, (C7), and to cover my whole lower body, I agreed to a novel approach to spinal cord stim-the electrode had to be permanently "glued" to my brainstem and exit at C2 for me to trial. So in 1999, I underwent a high cervical laminectomy and craniectomy for placement of a medullary brainstem dorsal column stimulator. The trial stimulation actually *worsened* the burning and cutting.

    And now I can't have MRI anymore with this metal in my neck.

    Like Alan said, as long as the lead is placed *above* your level of injury, there's no harm in your doing a trial. It can all be taken out if the trial doesn't work for you. I just thought I'd tell my story on the subject of SCS

    [This message was edited by Skye83 on 04-11-03 at 09:32 PM.]

  6. #6
    Senior Member mike's Avatar
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    Alan

    My doctor had originally suggested a pump using Bachlofen, however the surgeon thought that a stimulator would be a better first choice. We had also discussed using Morphine, however I am a bit afraid to try that as I have read that growths can form at the tip of the catheder with this approach.

    I am really afraid to stick anything in my spinal cords because as Skye noted, things can always get worse

    mike

  7. #7
    Senior Member alan's Avatar
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    Growths (granulomas) can form with baclofen in the pump, too, from what I've read (since a pump remains on my option-to-try list, albeit at the bottom of the list, I've looked into them and joined a pump mailing list.) The cause of the growths is unknown. They're rare, but one is too many if it's in your cord.

    The pump idea still bothers me because of the possible side effects (especially urinary retention), and the possible mechanical problems (pump moves, catheter moves or kinks, etc.) I'm close to the point where I have no choice but to do the trial, though - I've got to be able to go out! Homebound is boring.

  8. #8
    Mike, your doctor probably suggested SCS first (before a pump trial) because it's the next rung on the ladder of pain management after oral meds. Pumps are usually the last recourse. I know of some people with failed back syndrome who got some relief with SCS. You have nothing to lose with a SCS trial-I don't know the level of your injury or how extensive your pain is, but my trial was a novel approach with the permanent lead. If the trial doesn't work for you, the lead can be removed.

    Alan, I have heard about granulomas, too. Just one more thing to worry about. But I hear you about needing to get out more. I'm usually in so much more pain just getting ready to go somewhere that I'm inclined to just stay home. It sounds like you aren't able to get out as much as me, though. The Internet is wonderful for finding others to relate to, but it doesn't substitute for good ol' people contact and the great outdoors.

  9. #9
    Senior Member alan's Avatar
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    Mike,

    You might want to look into the Yahoo email group "Pumpsters." I joined that mailing list to get info on pumps, pro and con. You can join it from Yahoo.com, click on Groups, then look for Pumpsters.

  10. #10
    Mike, I just wanted to clarify my central pain has not worsened since 1999 BECAUSE of the SCS trial. The crushing component worsened DURING the trial. For me, the crushing, clamping and twisting from waist down has been the most agonizing and has worsened these past yrs even more than the burning and cutting.

    But we're all different. It's finding that magic wand (IF it exists) for each of us. Since IV lidocaine worked so well for me, it's something to pursue further. Or even other sodium channel blockers, like ziconotide (the sea snail venom.) If I had a pump, I could trial it. But at this point, I don't think I'm emotionally ready to be a guinea pig

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