boston scientific SCS for 90 year old

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New Member

Date Joined Aug 2010
Total Posts : 2
   Posted 8/23/2010 8:30 PM (GMT -6)   
My 90 year old grandmother has chronic back pain. she has some kind of spinal stenosis.
her doctor is recommending she try the precision plus SCS.
other than her back pain she is in great health.
does anyone know of anyone this age having this device and can anyone tell me their thoughts on this?
thank you!

Veteran Member

Date Joined Jul 2008
Total Posts : 2317
   Posted 8/23/2010 8:48 PM (GMT -6)   
I would get a second opinion for sure. I don't know anything about doing an implant in a 90yo, but I had one implanted in my 20's & the recovery was brutal. I just can't imagine it being worth the time & pain of surgery for someone who's 90.

I know it sounds really cruel to say, but people in their 90's tend to be in pain. There are so many other options to manage pain. By age 90, she doesn't need to worry about the long term damage of narcotic pain meds so I really would want to understand why the doctors don't feel that medication would be a better way to manage pain at her age.

But I am not a doctor or anything, so if you talk to a couple of surgeons & they all agree that the SCS is the way to go, I would just say to make plans to help her with the recovery period from surgery. It is at least a good 6 months to get back to where you were before surgery & reprogramming can take up to a year.

Forum Moderator

Date Joined Feb 2003
Total Posts : 16804
   Posted 8/23/2010 9:13 PM (GMT -6)   
Hi Back-Pain-Info, I think Frances nailed it, it is a rough surgery to begin with, then the time involved to get it programmed right. And above all understand you are not getting rid of the original pain, instead the SCS is causing a sensation that is suppose to help cover some of the pain up. People with the SCS units are not medication free, they still require pain meds. Personally speaking this is not something I would want my 90 year old mother doing. I would be getting lots of other opinions on this. There are just so many different pain medications available and combination of pain medications that can work.

As Frances said none of us here are drs just offering our thoughts up to you. Good luck.


Veteran Member

Date Joined Feb 2009
Total Posts : 999
   Posted 8/24/2010 12:29 AM (GMT -6)   
Greetings, I want to first off say that I admire your grandmother and you for looking into options that can lead to a better quality of life. I had the same unit implanted and did not find it that difficult to recover from. It was sore at the incisions for several weeks but I was working the day after I had my implant. I also have a very high tolerance for pain.
Here would be my concerns. How well does your grandmother adapt to changes? After healing from the initial implant, she would have to get used to the sensation that the generated impulse creates. Some find the sensation difficult to get used to even though you have some control over the sensations and can have at least 4 different preprogrammed settings.
How well does she do with managing hand held control units. If she tended to get frustrated easily, that could also be an issue. The controls are simple but depending how much she used it, she could have to reset the unit as often as she wanted a setting changed.
There is usually a week trial period that is done before the implant is done. It was my experience that the trial was less effective than the implant. During the trial, it can be adjusted at the doctors office with the boston Sci. rep at any time.
Some people seek the route of an SCS to reduce the pain and some to help reduce the pain and the need for pain relievers. It is common to continue the use of pain meds after getting the SCS implanted. I count mine as sucsessful but my meds increased by over 8 times the meds I was using before but that was due to me being so undermedicated to start with. I hope this helps and if you feel you want more information or have specific questions, I would be more than happy to assist. Blessing? 

New Member

Date Joined Aug 2010
Total Posts : 2
   Posted 8/25/2010 10:36 AM (GMT -6)   
thank you for your reply.
how old are you and how well do you normally heal from surgery, sickness, etc?
i think she is very clearheaded and sharp as a tack and can handle the unit, etc., but am concerned about recovery and ability to handle the initial surgery.
does the fact that this is to help deal with stenosis and spurs make any difference? 
thanks for your input, this is a big decision and the doctor is saying it is ok and i want to make sure it is.

Veteran Member

Date Joined Feb 2009
Total Posts : 999
   Posted 8/25/2010 11:33 AM (GMT -6)   
I am 55 and besides the back issues, I am in fairly good health. I had my implant surgery in the late morning and went home late in the afternoon. I had a dr that should not be practicing medicine but needed to go back to school. I say that as I was not given any pain meds to take home with me after surgery and had to just tuff it out. Anytime they make cuts in your skin there is going to be pain. They make two incisions one to place the wire leads along the spine and the other in an area where they build a little pouch to place the generator in that they connect the wires to. If I remember correctly, I took the next day off but went back to work 1 day after having the implant.
I tell people that the biggest issue is getting used to the sensation afterwards. It does not take the pain away, it interups the messages to the brain with an electric impulse. I have nerve damage and get pain in my legs and feet. I also have had a multiple level fusion.
The trial week is not painful. They make a small incision and insert 1 or 2 wires into the back. You are not put out during the trial as they need to test the unit after they insert the wires. I went back to work the same day I had the temp done.
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