Posted 12/10/2010 12:29 PM (GMT -7)
Yes, I have had that and so have many other members here. This topic has many hundreds of responses. You can find them by doing a search of "Spinal Cord Stimulator", "SCS", "neurostimulator", "neurostimulation" or "neuromodulation" -- also there might be a few under "pain pacemaker" as that was the term the companies used for a while.
The short of it is -- everyone's different, most people still need to be on some meds afterward, most docs want to reduce or eliminate meds after the implant, very few patients can function with no meds after the implant so your doc should be willing to keep prescribing something, at least 50/50 chance that you could be worse post-op for a few months, plan on a lot of reprogramming sessions, know that to ensure the best response you will probably be given physical restrictions for a time, driving with the stim turned on can carry legal implications but after 6 months most people say they don't see any practical reason to avoid it. Also, many models are not safe with MRI machines or near other powerful magnets -- something to keep in mind & to discuss with the surgeon who did your fusion. You'll probably want to do one more MRI before the surgery just to double check that there are no hidden issues IF you get one of the models that aren't safe with MRI's. I've probably missed a few but that's the gist of it.
Definitely pay attention to how the trial works. Cut back on your meds during the trial & keep to your normal schedule so you can get a good read on how much the stim will help you. Then, just make a decision. Like every other treatment out there, nothing is perfect. The stims do seem to be getting better with time so the long-term studies may or may not apply to the newest models out on the market.
Again, I point out that while reduction of medicine is a very, very strong possibility (mine cut my meds from 14 meds to 2 (after a brief increase to 17 post-op) and for those 2, dosages were reduced by over 66%), most people can't function without ANY medicine whatsoever unless their pain was only mild-moderate to begin with (by mild to moderate, I mean that you can usually go up to 60 minutes at a time without thinking about your pain while doing normal daily activities and you almost never get dizzy or nauseous from the pain; the pain can be awful but it doesn't distract you on a minute-to-minute basis from your work). Even then, there's no guarantee you'll be off all meds. Those promises, though common, rarely prove true. The patients end up with slightly worse pain than pre-implant b/c their docs won't even write for a single pill per day for bt pain. If you're one of the lucky few who can totally quit meds & live a decent life post-implant, that's great -- just make sure you have a Plan B in case that doesn't quite happen.