Spinal Cord Stimulation (SCS)
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Is Spinal Cord Stimulation safe?
Spinal Cord Stimulators have been used in thousands of people over the last 40 years and have been helpful in 5 to 7 out of every 10 patients, across the globe.
It is important to remember that this treatment is reversible. You can have it switched off or completely removed at any point.
Is this a validated therapy?
Yes. HIQUA has validated this therapy for specific patient groups Health Technology Assessment of Scheduled Procedures SCS: December 2013.
Will spinal cord stimulation allow me to return to work?
Some patients, depending on the type of work they do, are able to return to work, but you will need to discuss this further when you come to the pain clinic.
Your doctor will help you make this decision.
How soon after surgery can I return to a more active lifestyle?
Your doctor will discuss with you what you should and should not be doing, and when it is safe for you to start with activities such as swimming or exercise classes.
We would suggest that you gradually start gentle exercise such as walking. This will help you to build up your strength again.
It is important to restrict any sudden jerky movements of the spine (for SCS) during the trial and during the first 6 to 8 weeks after an implant to prevent migration of the leads.
Will I feel the device under my skin?
The device is placed 1 to 2 cm below the skin. Once your wounds have healed, most patients say it is easy to forget that the SCS is there.
You may have some discomfort while the wounds are healing. This is perfectly normal and is a sign that healing is taking place.
Very occasionally some patients feel some discomfort from the device.
Who do I contact if I have problems with my system?
The Pain Management Service will provide you an emergency contact number & email details.
There is an answerphone facility where a message can be left as well.
What if my system is damaged?
Along with the Stimulator you will be given a programmer to control your SCS device and also a charging base.
Whilst we can cover costs for malfunction of the equipment, unfortunately we cannot cover costs of accidental damage or loss.
We advise patients to put the programmer on to their home insurance policies. Failure to do so may lead to a delay in the replacement of the device.
Can I drive with the stimulator on?
No. Your Conventional SCS ( cSCS) should not be used while you are driving or operating heavy machinery. If you are driving you need to turn the SCS off. You can ride as a passenger with the SCS on.
However, if you are using Nevro HF-10 SCS you can drive and operate heavy machinery
Can I actually control the SCS?
Yes. It will depend on the type of SCS you have and you will be able to discuss this further with your doctor. You will have the ability to turn the SCS on and off.
If you have Conventional SCS you will also be able to adjust the tingling feeling that you feel over your painful area. Different patients require different programs. This will be discussed with you during the meeting with your doctor and multidisciplinary team at the Clinic
Who is responsible for my future care after an SCS implant?
You are always under the care of the Pain Management Service at SFPH once you are seen at our by our Pain Medicine Consultants.
Once the permanent implant is carried out you will have a follow up in the Pain Clinic at 1 month, 3 months, 6 months & 1 year to ensure pain relief. We will then continue this review you on an annual basis at the Pain Clinic.
The aim is to ensure all is well and also to obtain relevant data on the benefits of this device to assist with an overall evaluation of this therapy. If reprogramming is required this can be arranged for during these appointments or otherwise if required.
Do I have to use the stimulator all day?
You can use the SCS all the time if you need to.
Some patients find that they just want to use it to get pain relief during the day and they turn it off at night. Other patients do have the SCS switched on while they are asleep.
Your doctor will be able to discuss the method of use that is most suitable for you.
Are there any side effects or risks?
As with any surgical procedure there are potential risks or side effects.
A small possibility of infection i.e. a 4% to 5% chance at wound site.
Infection may occur within epidural space.
Risk of meningitis - 1:100,000
Risk of Respiratory Infection
Risk of Post Surgery Headache 1:20
Slight risk of bleeding or of injury to or around the spinal cord (for SCS) - 1:500,000
The leads may move (migrate), there maybe a failure in capturing the area of pain - 1:10
Inadequate pain relief after 6 months - 1:5
Unpleasant sensation at site of Computer - 1:10
Allergic reaction to the system (temporary or permanent) - 1:1000
Nerve damage, paralysis - 2:1,000,000
Death is an exceedingly rare complication of this procedure but has been reported