Living with a Spinal Cord Stimulator

A spinal cord stimulator is an implanted device that delivers electrical current to the spine to help manage chronic pain. The control box is implanted in your stomach and allows you to control the amount of stimulation that your spine receives. The goal is to reduce the stimulation over time, but some individuals have lived with these devices for years.

After wearing a stimulator for years, a person may notice that it requires more frequent charging or that it doesn’t pack as much punch as it used to. The devices can wear out, and that means that they need a replacement.

Why Spinal Cord Stimulators Are Needed

Someone usually needs a spinal cord stimulator after something like failed back surgery syndrome. It is an option when the pain simply won’t go away and all other options have been exhausted. The stimulator may not remove the need to take pain medication, but it can reduce the quantity. It can also keep a person from having to turn to narcotics to control the pain.

Things to Keep in Mind

There are some things that you want to keep in mind when living with a spinal cord stimulator. One is to keep the hand control away from water. You can ruin the hand controller. This is one reason why it is good to have the device insured. If it is damaged, then you want to be able to replace it as soon as possible, because the lack of a hand control means a lack of pain control or too much stimulation.

You also want to ensure you stay on top of any therapy appointments. Therapy is very important for continued mobility and for your overall health. When combining therapy with the stimulator, you are more able to get around than you would be otherwise.

Another thing to keep in mind is that right after implantation, you may have lead pain for a while. For some patients, this pain can last for months after implantation. However, it does go away. The benefit far outweighs the fact that there is some pain for a short while after the implantation. When measured against years of pain, a few months of discomfort isn’t as significant as it would be to someone who didn’t already have chronic pain.

A Life-Changing Experience

Getting a spinal cord stimulator after all else has failed can be a life changer. The scars are usually rather neat, making it hard to tell that a stimulator has been installed. There are patients that experience relief from the back pain itself almost immediately while others may need a little more time. A person’s balance may be a bit off at first, but things begin to feel right after a short time. Any canes that were used before may need to be used for the days following the surgery, especially since the surgery scars are fresh.

Just be sure to talk to your doctor about everything. You are more likely to have expectations that are more reasonable when you have feedback from your doctor on your unique case. No two people are alike, and that means your recovery may not be exactly the same as someone else’s.