I have both an intrathecal pump and a SCS. The pump was implanted about 3 years ago and the SCS was implanted about 2 years ago. I trialed both therapies before I underwent surgical implantation. A combination of both therapies have given quality back to my life. I have dramatically reduced my pain level and no longer suffer from the debilitating side effects from oral medications. I am certainly not pain free, but I am now able to function and participate in life’s functions without being curled up in debilitating pain. Even though I still suffer from waves if pain, I would repeat both procedures again in a heat beat. I am now participating in life. Something I was unable to do prior to the implantation.
Dx: Rare progressive neurodegenerative disease called Multiple System Atrophy (brain rot, autonomic system failure, neuropathic pain and a whole lot more). Added improvements: Intrathecal pump and a spinal cord stimulator and a new brand new power wheelchair with shiney horn,.
Medications: Sinemet, Requip, Klonopin, Baclofen, Provigil, Lyrica, Fentanyl patches, Lidoderm patches, Dilaudid, Fentora and Zofran
Post Edited (Stella Marie) : 6/8/2008 4:53:16 AM (GMT-6)
I agree with Gramps 100% about expectations. I think it is also important to remember that the representatives are paid a large $$ bonus for each device sold. The SCS (spinal cord stimulator) emits an electrical impulse that basically masks the pain that you are experiencing. It does not stop pain – it just disrupts the pain feeling. Some people find the electrical impulse, which I would describe as a tingling sensation, as pleasant. Others cannot tolerate the feeling. That is why it is so important to have a trial of the SCS before having the actual device implanted.
The SCS is implanted just under the skin with leads close the the spinal column. Patients are given a hand held controller that allows adjustment of the impulse. Mine contains 3 programs that stimulate different areas (feet - lower legs -upper legs, etc.) and I can select impulse intensities from a scale of 1 to 15. Personally, I cannot tolerate anything higher than 9. Because I also have an intrathecal pump implanted, I find that the higher impulses from SCS bothers my pump. It creates an odd feeling that I can not explain, but I find it uncomfortable. One thing that the sales reps mislead me about was the frequency that my SCS would have to be recharged. If I use my stimulator at strong impulses over and extended period of time, I have to recharge every 4 or 5 days. Recharging involves using an external recharger and placing it directly over the SCS and keeping it in place for a couple of hours.
Even though I have the SCS, I still use a great deal of oral pain medications, as well as duragesic patches. So do not think the SCS will eliminate your use of pain medications. It is just one more tool you can use to lessen the intensity of certain types of pain. In no way is an SCS ever going to eliminate all of your pain.
Good luck and I will be happy to answer any question your may have about my experience with the SCS.
I have the SCS and have been very disappointed in it. I understand some people do have success with it, however. If you can control your pain with oral medications, it is my opinion that is a much better option than implanting ANYTHING in your body. There are numerous pain medications other than morphine that might provide you better relief. Good luck and God Bless.
I reread your initial posting and I am curious why you and your physician feel that you need to choose a pump or an SCS as the next step after morphine is no longer effective. There is a laundry list of pain medications and combination of medications. Have you exhausted all of your oral medication options? I personally was on Fentanyl patches every 48 hours, Dilaudid, Lyrica and Fentora before I opted to add an SCS to the mix. Methadone did not work for me. Plus I already had a pump implanted with Baclofen in it. I go every 10 days to have my Baclofen dose adjusted so it is not possible for me to mix pain meds with my Baclofen in my pump. What other meds have you tried other than Morphine and have you considered and second opinion from another Pain Management specialist? Lastly, my life expectancy is another major factor for my choice. I am not sure I would opt for an SCS if I had a normal life expectancy - but who knows. As I stated before - I am glad I have it. It does alter pain sensations when all else fails and sometimes that is enough to get you through the night.
Just food for thought!
Post Edited (Stella Marie) : 6/9/2008 12:43:20 AM (GMT-6)
Thanks everyone for your input. I have been on every oral pain med except for oxycontin and methadone. My doctor no longer prescribes oxy. I take percocet for breakthrough pain.
I have used the patches but due to my menopausal "tropical moments" I release too much of the medicine into my system every time I have a hot flash.
I am 52 and have had chronic pain for over 10 years now. I think I will try the methadone before I go for any implants. The physician's assistant told me that at my "young age" (52), they don't like to do the pain pump beause it must be reseated every 8-9 years and each time it gets more difficult to do so.
My tens unit does me no good so I'm not too sold on the spinal cord simulator.
As is everyone else, I'm just demoralized from too much pain and not enough relief. Out of the past 4 days I spent 3 overdoing it because I felt good. Now I'm so miserable I could scream,and I can't sleep at night even with the sleeping medicine. It felt so good to live my life like I used to, but I am really paying for it now.
I'm on a new antidepressant called Pristiq which has given me alot more energy than I used to have. Having that extra energey allowed me to do more while the breakthrough meds were at work. WOW am I sorry now.
Thanks again everyone. I really appreciate your responses!