Study:  Spinal Cord Stimulation (SCS) Therapy Reduces Need for Opioids

Study: Spinal Cord Stimulation (SCS) Therapy Reduces Need for Opioids

By Staff

According to new research, spinal cord stimulation (SCS) therapy can help reduce the amount of opioids needed to manage chronic pain.

Researchers studied opioid usage data from more than 5,400 patients both prior to, and after receiving SCS therapy.  They found that average daily opioid use declined or stabilized for those using a successful SCS system compared to patient use of opioids prior to an implant.  A successful SCS system is one that a patient undergoes a temporary trial of the therapy and find that it relieves pain, and then they receive the permanent implant.  An unsuccessful SCS system is one that the patient does not gain pain relief during the trial period.

Opioid usage was not different for the two groups at time of implant.  Those who underwent a successful SCS implant had significantly lower opioid use one year after their implant. Patients who had their SCS system removed saw their opioid use increase again over time.

The study, which the researchers believe makes a compelling case for considering SCS therapy earlier in the chronic pain care continuum, were presented today at the 2017 North American Neuromodulation Society (NANS) annual meeting by Ashwini Sharan, M.D., director of Functional and Epilepsy Surgery at Vickie and Jack Farber Institute for Neuroscience at Jefferson and president of NANS.

“Given the epidemic of opioid addiction and abuse, these findings are important and confirm that spinal cord stimulation therapy can offer strong benefits for patients struggling with chronic pain,” said Sharan. “Based on these results, we concluded it may be possible to improve outcomes by offering our patients spinal cord stimulation earlier, before opioid dependence and addiction can occur.”

The researchers assessed private and Medicare insurance claims data from 5,476 patients who received an SCS system to treat chronic pain associated with a host of conditions (excluding pain related to cancer). The data were collected between January 2010 and December 2014.

The data confirmed that many patients are often prescribed increasing dosages of opioids prior to receiving an SCS system. The researchers also found:

  • SCS therapy is effective for patients at any level of opioid usage prior to implantation.
  • Opioid use declined or stabilized in 70 percent of patients who received an SCS system.
  • Among patients who had their SCS system explanted, opioid use was higher at one year compared to those who continued with SCS therapy.

The researchers further suggested patient outcomes could be improved if SCS were implanted earlier in recognition of the clinical practice to provide increasing dosages of opioids over time. These conclusions help build upon prior research, such as results of a large multicenter randomized controlled trial in patients with failed back surgery syndrome (FBSS) that showed trends in opioid reduction or cessation among SCS patients. In addition, new technologies released in the U.S. in 2015 and 2016 hold promise to improve outcomes further and may reduce common complications resulting in explant such as the undesired changes in paresthesia, issues with charging, pain at the implantable pulse generator (IPG) site, and loss of pain relief.

“As our society has been seeking ways to stem opioid abuse and addition, our company offers treatment options that can reduce their exposure to opioid medication,” said Allen Burton, M.D., medical director of neuromodulation at Abbott. “Data like these are critical to helping us demonstrate that spinal cord stimulation can reduce exposure to opioids while giving patients comprehensive pain relief.”

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Authored by: Staff

There are 32 comments for this article
  1. Kim at 11:13 am

    Sharkgirl503, why do you not consider implantation of an SCS surgery?? Given a trial, then the implantation, the potential lead adjustments and battery replacements, I would think several outpatient surgeries would be required, even if the implantation is successful.

  2. linda harrison at 8:43 am

    From what I’m understanding… Boston scientific is the best. Stay away from medtronic at all costs.
    Good luck to you.

  3. Sharkgirl503 at 1:01 am

    Hi, I have been in pain mgmt. for 12+ years. The pain pills do not help! I get 6 radio freqencies per year. I’m hoping my Dr. Will try a stimulator. I’m 37 years old using a cane a lot of the time. Any suggestions on which stimulator is better, and what kind of relief you get! I have fibro and AS disease so surgery is out of the question. Please, and thank you!!!!

  4. Linda Harrison at 8:27 pm

    I had a spinal cord stimulator implanted over a year ago in Iowa, after multiple discectomies, RFA s, multiple nerve blocks and epidurals, lumbar fusion L1 L2.
    I had Medtronic implanted after positive trial, leads came loose, had to repeat surgery. During that surgery, I had spinal fluid leak, which in turn gave me a massive headache and landed in hospital overnight.

    The permanent implant was not the same as the trial, I had it adjusted many many times by reps.
    It has never worked for me.

    Just moved to Florida,Pensacola area. Back pain is worse than ever, they have me on a ton of drugs, that are not helping much. On top of that, I now have a new symptom, left thigh numbness, and severe severe shooting, constant pain. When people say articles like this that we are addicted.. It ticks me off. I’ve been through hell and back and still in pain.

    I had a nerve conduction study for today, positive for nerve damage, but the doctor still has to review this.
    Waiting on CT scan to be scheduled, and a referral to neurosurgeon.

    I want this stimulator out, but have to deal with this thigh pain first.
    They are also discussing putting a different brand in me.. The one I have now with Medtronic, the battery is huge, and there is pain surrounding it. The one they want to put in is considerably smaller and he said it is much better and more efficient. I believe it is Boston Scientific. I’m scared to death. I want to be out of pain.. I don’t want to be on all these pills. I feel like I’m already dead. I have no life. Can’t do anything with my children.
    I live near the beach.. And can’t even get to it because I can’t walk.

    Find a great doctor. Ask tons of questions, before anyone puts a scalpel to your back or elsewhere.

    Good luck.

    Hope everyone has better luck than me.

  5. Kim at 12:50 am

    Amen!! …and so sorry for the loss of your Father… You are absolutely right .. people who do not have this pain are making heinous decisions on behalf of people that do. People who do not have this pain can not ‘get it’ regarding the severity and disruptiveness of this pain, and therfore are a poor choice to determine the ‘sufficiency’ of our pain medicine or pain treatment. They must learn to listen to us .. really LISTEN and treat us with respect and dignity. Until then, we all suffer every moment, hour, day due to their foolishness…

  6. Ben Geddin Wurse at 5:34 pm

    My Father took his life while using a SCS implant to “relieve” his pain. Never had any pain to speak of or complain of until he reached about 63. Worked construction all his life. Fell off of a 2 story building. Was blessed with proper healing. No surgery. Had to wear a back support for months. He got to the point after just a couple years after the age of about 63 that he just could not get “sufficient” pain relief with the SCS “treatment” and moderate to heavy opioid medication. Comes to a point that opioid medication is a blessing to the chronic pain patient however, the folks without chronic pain think that all pain patients are “weak”.or weak willed. Not true. If you haven’t BEEN there, how can you know? They show NO MERCY. Some patients have been stable on opioid medication for decades. Not bitter, just realistic. Write your state officials. Write your state medical board. Write Congress. Write the President. Lives literally depend on it. Reduction of “help” is inhumane.

  7. Matthew J. Smith at 5:20 am

    Mine Pain Mgmnt Doctor was Board Certified was educated at Johns Hopkins, and had privileges there, and STILL gave me ESIs , which gave me Arachnoiditis , and then recommended an SCS !!

  8. Tim Mason at 7:32 pm

    Most you that are unfortunate to have a good pain doctor need an attorney. Not just any attorney either. We all need one. A person is more likely to need an attorney these days that a physician.
    The attorney needs to be or has been a physician. He/She must have political clout. IMO this is the ball that needs to get rolling.
    I feel I am one of the lucky ones. My physician is on the state medical board and is pain certified with the highest degrees in the pain field.
    Look for these types of credentials when you are searching for a new pain doctor or doctora.
    Shop online and make calls.” Let your fingers do the walking” was the old yellow pages ad. Finding a doctor can be an easy task with the internet at your fingertips.

  9. Tiffany Brown at 5:53 pm

    I just want to thank everyone who has posted comments. Sharing your opinions, info, & stories help others like me.

  10. kathi at 6:44 am

    I tried this method but did not work for me..

  11. Mark Ibsen at 10:42 pm

    Great
    By this logic, decapitation will
    Lead to less sinusitis and
    Trigeminal neuralgia

  12. Jean Price at 8:57 pm

    Tim…yes, lots of issues for these devices, and somehow, leaky batteries and possible electric jolts that can cause accidents don’t seem like things I’d be willing to mess with! As with all treatments, people have to pick what they think might work and trust their gut instinct if nothing else! Even for a side effect that is not common, if you’re that person who develops it….that’s what important to assess.

    I used a TENS for many years, yet each time, it lost its effectiveness after just a couple of days and became a liability plus an irritant! Seeing this reported as a potential problem for some with SCS units also didn’t surprise me. Thanks for the info! A good resource for anyone contemplating the procedure. Especially to look at the manufacturing company, their longevity in the market, and their rate of issues and successes…all things it would be good to know! I’m sure there are lots of products! And lots of varied problems and successes!

  13. spkavyo at 2:33 pm

    I have been living with an SCS system from St. Jude for ten years now. I have seen my opioid use drop by very large amounts compared to pre implantation. However, I also started medical marijuana two years after implantation. I’ve found that the implant works in tandem with the cannabis to provide better pain relief. The body buzz of the implant, plus the body buzz of strong cannabis mutually complement each other and provide relief. I have failed back surgery syndrome, scar tissue pressing on a nerve after multiple surgeries. I am currently, after sixteen years going off of opioids altogether. Oregon doctors don’t want to prescribe opioids to cannabis users so I am going to go cannabis only.

  14. Doug at 11:22 am

    Wrong, I’m in more pain now and I was able to work every day using a very low dose of opiates 2 to 3 Norco 10 325 a day until I got my Boston Scientific spinal cord stimulator.
    Now I’m unable to work.
    I’m in more pain than I’ve ever been in in my life.
    I now take 4 to 6 Norco 10 325 per day.
    I can’t carry a pan across the kitchen without dropping it.
    I can’t walk more than 100 yards without being brought tears.
    My life has been reduced to having to depend on my spouse to support me because I’m still fighting a crooked system to get my SSDI.

  15. John S at 9:06 pm

    My SCS was in for only a few months and during that time we were not able to lower my medication dose.

    After 3 procedures to make a better connection the devise was removed.

    Perhaps if it was used on those addicted to Opiates the SCS could be more useful. Maybe it’s just not for pain.

    Thank you

    John S

  16. Kelly goodson at 6:08 pm

    Well the 1st test run 2 years ago felt like a vibration in my legs but I didn’t want it ….now regret it but they have a new one no wires I’m going in march to see if they will put it in.
    But still you’ll need pain meds to taper off them.this doesn’t fix the whole problem crps people have

  17. Lisa at 4:33 pm

    Well I had to put my two cents in here. I have CRPS it stemmed from a back surgery in 2013. I tried the SCS in 2015 I had the trial one implanted & had nothing but trouble they couldn’t get the leads where they wanted them I had slight sedation when they did it but I had to go back one of the leads had fallen out this time I had absolutely no sedation I thought I was gonna go through the roof & I still didn’t get the kind of relief I had hoped for. The drs. had pretty much insisted I try this SCS I would not recommend this to anyone. I’m still on my meds & still in quite a bit of pain but there doesn’t seem to be much else to do I have it in my left leg & foot & now I have in my right foot.

  18. Carla Cheshire at 4:24 pm

    I had an SCS for about a year. It lost its effectiveness and I had it removed. I continued opioid therapy throughout SCS use. I believe my dosage was steady.

    What they may not tell you:
    1. Be very careful in the trial. It is just hard to tell how well it works over a weekend. You want it to work so badly and I think as a patient we exaggerate the plus side in our mind.
    Try to be as truthful as possible because the device is in your body until you have surgery to have it removed.
    2. Once you have the implant. My SCS was bulky and it sat on my hip. I bumped it a few times and the pain was excruciating.
    3. With mine you had to change out the battery every 5 years. Not sure how it is now. But it was a surgical procedure to change the battery.

  19. Tim Mason at 2:45 pm

    Debra, go to the FDA web site for answers to ALL your questions. The infection rate is high. Also the # 1 reason for explanation is the implanted device does not work like the trial. You have to have a psych evaluation prior to getting one because they are expensive.
    ALL the #’s are on the FDA website.

  20. Jared James at 2:22 pm

    It helps but these studies need to be done by people like me. I have been trying so hard to get injections. I was forced to say I’m an addict and put on methadone because Kentucky doctors won’t write our medicine.I tried to commit suicide by pouring gas on myself and set it on fire. I was in a coma for over a month and unfortunately woke up in a burn unit. I am in so much chronic pain from a 150 ft fall into concrete when I was 18. I was stable for many years on large amounts of opioids. Now I am denied any quality of life. I hate living. It is torture every day that I breathe. I am healing from third degree burns on fifty percent of my body. Imagine the pain of that alone. It doesn’t compare to the amount of pain I physically suffer everyday. Since we don’t matter and we are denied anything that gives us any quality of life, I have been begging for the government to allow me a pieceful death by doctor assisted suicide . We can’t talk about it cuz they want to lock us up if we admit to being suicidal. I don’t know where to turn I am stuck. When I do succeed in death I want it to be understood that it is not depression but more of uncompassionate pain treatment.. Now I am denied any quality of life. I hate living. It is torture every day that I breathe. I am healing from third degree burns on fifty percent of my body. Imagine the pain of that alone. It doesn’t compare to the amount of pain I physically suffer everyday. Since we don’t matter and we are denied anything that gives us any quality of life, I have been begging for the government to allow me a pieceful death by doctor assisted suicide . We can’t talk about it cuz they want to lock us up if we admit to being suicidal. I don’t know where to turn I am stuck. When I do succeed in death I want it to be understood that it is not depression but more of uncompassionate pain treatment.

  21. Kim at 12:24 pm

    I wrote and erased a very long reply. The net is that we (the ones with diseases characterized by debilitating acute chronic pain) will be abandoned to suffer, relegated to being science experiments, until someone in the medical profession has the same pain and is able to sway those in power. Pain is unholy, relentless, and very real…stealing lives every day .. ruining relationships and families .. stealing sleep, mobility, jobs and memories .. but people simply do not or can not ‘get it’ when it is not happening to them. Different meds and procedures help different people; there is no one size fits all. Please treat us a human beings, deserving of dignity, respect, and pain relief. Take the time to really teach us what the potential downsides are and let us choose .. for us. Time to stop the false claims of opoid abuse epidemics in chronic pain patients .. I read an article published in January that showed far less than 2% of long term pain patients were opoid addicts, and when the data was refined the number was less than 1%. Stop causing fear and doubt. Stop messing with our ability to receive essential pain relief. Focus instead on figuring out what causes this crazy pain, and then how to cure it!

  22. Jean Price at 11:39 am

    This article doesn’t say much about the down side or the risks and potential problems of SCS. I have met only one man who felt he was greatly helped…yet he described himself as being previously highly “addicted” to opioids…so I thought it was difficult to weed out what was the success of the procedure versus his heightened joy of just being off drugs all together. And he was still incapacitated. Like all invasive procedures, there are major

    risks and definitely the success can depend on the doctor’s skill plus a number of patient factors. A doctor once told me if I ever considered this, to try to check with the equipment representative in the area to see who they felt did the best job and had the best patient success story. I’m not sure how easy that would be for an individual, though. As a physician, he HAD been able to do this for patients who were moving or contemplating a move.

    All in all, I don’t consider this a viable option for me because of my extreme sensitivity to even injections and other procedures involving spinal tampering. Although that doctor did say if I ever chose to try this, to make sure the trial was hopeful with at least a fifty percent reduction in my pain, HE SAID IF YOU HAVE TO REALLY THINK ABOUT IF IT HAD WORKED OR NOT…FORGET IT! It wasn’t worth the potential risks. Not being able to have future MRI’s is also a big concern for those with more involved areas of spinal degeneration. So I would advise people to never enter into this treatment option lightly.

  23. MichaelL at 11:15 am

    I wonder how often people have trouble with these. My mother had one that increased her pain. It gave her new pain where the transmitter was under the skin, as well The biggest problem is that the patients that have failed treatment can often be labeled “drug seekers”, further making it hard to get treatment, and having a decent quality of life unattainable. I, also, wonder how often they are used without trying, cheaper, non-invasive treatments beforehand. I had a “pain doctor” see me when I moved to another state. The first visit he stopped my hydrocodone that had been working for my neuropathy. Then he immediately wrote a letter telling Medicare that I had failed all treatment and needed a spinal cord stimulator. That was before talking to me about it. I had survived a six month bout with poorly treated MRSA. I thought it was very reckless of him.to suggest invasive procedures before trying a TENS unit, micro-stimulation, ultrasound, ultraviolet therapy…your get my drift. Having been trained by the American Academy of Pain Management with a Certificate of Pain studies through the University of the Pacific at Stockton, I was far from impressed with his attempt to shift right to the most expensive therapy, with the biggest reward, monetarily, for him. I thought, since I was at risk for MRSA that it was a rather dangerous way to treat my pain. The question is, how effective are they and how much are they over-used? I survive with inadequate therapy, at the moment. But, I am not willing to risk another MRSA infection before actually trying all avenues of treatment available. It is sort of like the old adage…”when you have a hammer, everything looks like a nail!” Maybe it was because that is all he knew to do. I don’t know. Or, just maybe he knew he would profit a good amount of cash by putting it in, whether it worked or not. I was the one that was taking the risk! I did not appreciate it!

  24. Heather at 11:01 am

    I have had a scs for four years now. It does help but only if I turn it off for a couple of days and then back on. My doctor said it eventually works like an opioid your body will begin to tolerate it and it becomes less effective hence the turning on and off should help and it does but not for very long. I would have like to have known this before I had the implant I might have thought differently on having it implanted in the first place. I have had my tailbone removed , a laminectomy, and a two level fusion in my lower back that failed it’s a miserable way to live. I feel a little better when I hear other people’s stories it lets me know things can always be worse but when you are excruciating pain sometimes you tend to forget!!!

  25. Kathy C at 10:39 am

    This is more sloppy Pseudo Science with some rather odd conclusions. The first observation we all need to make is that this Is more of Marketing Promotion, than “Scientific Study.” The “Data” was gleaned from Insurance Billing Data. This billing Data, would only show Billing for the Device, and whether the Insurance covered Opiates after the procedure. They typically use the ICD-10, which does not capture much data, by design. Powerful Medical Lobbying Interests, don’t want “the Government” to be able to do comparative studies. This could lead to reduced payments for some Physicians and Hospitals. They claim that any Comparative Studies are bad for the Industry.

    This was one of the things they promoted in the “Modern Medicine” and Progress Narrative. We were all lead to believe that this data, was going to bring about radical improvements in healthcare. Well, they could not have that, according to the Industry Lobbying Groups, that helped design the ICD-10, and the DSMV, the Behavioral Health Billing Bible. They have worked behind the scenes to guarantee, that not much “Comparative Data, could be gathered from the Data. The true Application of Science to Healthcare, has been obstructed by pseudo Science Industry groups, with obscene amounts of money.
    The “Researchers” here work for the Device Industry, the first most obvious take away. With an enormous amount of money at stake, and their careers, they had to come up with these “Conclusions.” The most disturbing is the idea, that implanting this device will somehow address the “Opiate Epidemic”, a ridiculous assertion, but it is Advertising, not Science. They can say whatever, as long as it is not too outlandish. A clever person could re-write this and claim that these devices improve your Sex Life. We are in the Post Science Post Fact Era.
    The one Fact we should all take away form this, is that the Data Collection has been limited by design. The Powers That Be, the Industries that have made billions by avoiding Facts, and Science, Marketing the Idea of health to a gullible public. The ICD-10 is designed to not collect any Data, that can be used comparatively. The ramifications should be frightening. They have managed to obscure a lot of “Facts” about Healthcare, even the number of deaths from Diabetes, was obscured. they just found it was much higher, but due to vague Reporting requirements, many of the deaths were unreported. This should be the kind of information Health Providers would need. Instead the manipulation of the ability to even collect data, is why “Scientists” and health professionals did not know the true numbers. This information was also obscured by the Sugar Industry, it looked bad for them.
    We can still believe in Science, just not the stilted perversion represented in this “Study.” Billing Codes are designed to be vague. The Industry, Medical and Big Pharma, did not want the public, to know much. It is easier to sell Snake Oil, Dangerous Drugs and Problematic Devices to a gullible Public.

    They already marketed some similar devices, 15-20 Years ago. There were complications, and problems. They might have improved these things with smaller technology, but they are essentially the same idea. All they have to do is Market them again as something “New.” There is a whole new set of customers. The pain patients that are so desperate they will submit to having this device implanted in their bodies. As long as they understate the dangers, and overstate the benefits.

    Many pain patients are afraid of Opiates, or unable to get them anymore, these devices will be marketed as a better option. Physicians have been trained to avoid discussing the negatives, or acknowledging them when they occur. The ICD 10 Codes are not designed to identify problems. Perhaps a “Researcher” in a few years might correlate the Implantation of this device with more visits to the Doctor, Antibiotic prescriptions, drugs other than opiates, or other billing trends. Depending on the Patients “Underlying Condition”, Deaths might not be captured in the Data. If a patient with an implant were to die from an infection fromm the device implant, the Reporting requirements are so vague, that death would probably be attributed to “Underlying Condition.” This is one more way the Industry avoids scrutiny, and still gets paid. The ICD 10 is designed that way, they don’t want anyone figuring out that anything is useless, or dangerous before they can Market it to more gullible and desperate patients.

    The placement of this “Study” will not only encourage Investment it will give people the idea that this works, especially when they see a version in an Advertisement. Physicians will find this is more profitable that prescribing Pills. Patients with cheaper Insurance that pays less reimbursement, will have difficulty following up. They will end up in the ER with Sepsis, the luckier ones will have to be patronized by the Physician, told that hey are unusual because it did not work as expected or caused Side Effects. Since they have already run a narrative about “Mental health” they can claim it didn’t work because the patient is depressed.

    Posting this “Study” as news on this Site, helps it go Viral. It gives it more credibility. This is Advertising in the guise of a “Study” or “News.” This is how they market this stuff, and there is a lot of money at stake, Billions. The Corporate Media is already promoting these devices. They won’t be doing any Investigative Journalism, or anything critical, that could reflect bad on the Industry. This is all about the money. It has nothing to do with health.

    http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2017/01/tom-price-health-secretary-fringe-medical-group

  26. Heather at 10:28 am

    First off I agree with a previous comment that there is NO epidemic amonst OPIOD ABUSE WITH REAL PAIN PATIENTS. The problem lies with herion and cocaine that has Fentanyl in it and being blamed for the whole uproar with this “epidemic”. Yes there is a problem amongst people who use on the street and want to get high and use recreational and may but opiods on the street and that is proven. And they also said they have absolutely no scientific evidence of ABUSE amongst chronic pain patients. We are being treated like addicts, treated inhumanly, treated unfairly, treated like garbage we are not and have legit diagnosis to prove our pain. We are out down, ridiculed, ERs across the country will not even touch us or treat us if they k ow we follow pain management and that’s a fact and here in Florida they want do blood work testing anything people are dying left, right, and center due to lack of treatment and neglect from hospital physicians who have their heads up in the clouds somewhere and believe we are their for meds. We aren’t. We do have flares and other issues that pop up with our chronic diseases and autoimmune disorders that they don’t want to admit they don’t know how to treat us. First off out it all to the side and treat us as an acute patient coming in do testing and figure out what else may be going on. I have been belitted and turned away as soon as I told the hospital I took pain meds ansbtje first thing out of their mouths were, ” I’m not giving you any drugs”. Disnt ask for them, I have my own and I couldn’t walk but nope discharged immediately and they wouldn’t even let my husband use a wheelchair so he carried me back to the car and my pcp I called who told me to go called and ripped the ER a new one and wanted me to go back and I said no sorry I will not go back after how they treated me. So hospitals and all ER staff need EDUCATION EDUCATION EDUCATION. WE ARE NOT DRUG ADDICTS. THE FDA CDC DEA need to figure out a way to classify the real problem which is the illegal opiods in another class and stop allowing pain patients to continue sufferring. It is not fair we should have to live in pain 24/7 and Drs in fear of losing their licenses that they went to school for many many years for to treat someone in pain. I believe it should start at low doses when needed, but also understand it is necessary at times especially to be able to have just a little bit of quality of life or we would ALL potentially be bedridden and the SUICIDE RATES ARE SOARING AND IT SHOULD NEVER EVER HAPPEN BECAUSE SOMEONE IS IN PAIN SUFFERING AND CAN’T GET TREATMENT. I’ve been thru therapy 10 x, done massage therapy, use a hearing pad and ice, have a tens unit, listen to music, tried yoga, adult coloring, anything to distract my mind, bought a pool to do water therapy which by far is the best thing since therapy said my body was to fragile to do any machine exercises. And also if they want people to be able to function a little better possibly or try at least then the insurance companies should pay for therapy and alternative modalities to help. Who can afford $50 copay and more sometimes and then turn additional $150 billed to you 3 x week for therapy until your deductible is met which they have all increased so much to where it would never happen. $4000 ded person is unacceptable. What happened to $1000 when insurance was insurance before ACA. Seriously. So who can afford a stimulator. In not a candidate for that either. This article is nothing more than a sales pitch to sale a product sorry but true. It may help some but it is not the cure all and I’m sure those who have them still have flares and need pain medication at times. So just not 100% feasible. This is a very sore subject with the pain community and being addressed in many directions. So pain warriors. Stand tall, speak up, defend your rights, and most importantly, BE YOUR OWN ADVOCATE!!!!!

  27. Matt Smith at 8:31 am

    I thought I’d weigh in here, as I have both positive and negative thoughts on my SCS. I was diagnosed with Arachnoiditis in 2008 and implanted with an SCS in 2010/11 : first trial attempt was not successful as they couldn’t get the leads where they wanted them (they claimed that my Titanium Instrumentation was in the way, and that they wanted to try again from a different direction – however, a couple of weeks later it was a different doctor from the Pain Mgmnt office who did the procedure, so I suspect the first didn’t have the experience neccesary to do it right the first time). Second trial went fine, as did the final implant, and I should note that I was awake during all 3 procedures providing feedback to doctors on if they sensations were hitting the right spots… The SCS has not been a magic button for my pain, but it is a useful tool in my pain relief toolbox, and it may have kept me from reaching for more pain meds/higher dosages, etc., BUT, I felt that at the time they still weren’t great at the implantation of these, and that they didn’t give me as much info as I should have had on them -> add to that that the Pain mgmnt practice that did these were the same ones who (unbeknownst to me , at the time) had given me the Arachnoiditis by giving me Epidural Steroid Injections, AND never informed me that Arachnoiditis Patients should always avoid any further invasive spinal procedures, AND we’re doling out pain medication with an eyedropper. … I really was made to feel like I didn’t have any other choice as I had been in horrific pain for a couple years…… Now I have to charge my SCS quite often as the batter is about 6 years old, and I don’t know what replacing it would cost, or what harm I risk in trying this again, coupled with the fact that NO ONE wants us to have opiods any more….. Rock, meet Hard Place….

  28. Debra Burt at 7:34 am

    Just wondering: what is the success rate for implantation? What is the rate of side effects? What is the rate of explants? And lastly, how much does this cost?

  29. Jan at 6:33 am

    This is a possibility but I hear about so many problems

  30. Tim Mason at 5:58 am

    “Given the epidemic of opioid addiction and abuse”
    There is not an epidemic of opioid addiction and abuse. There may be an opiate problem but this OPIATE is heroin.
    There is a drug related behavior in a certain class of people but it is NOT demonstrated in the Chronic Pain patient.
    see e-ROADS Electronic Research on Opioid Abuse Detection and Surveillance
    As I have mentioned before, SCS and the Neuromodulation manufacturers offer a Business Model to generate profit and increased revenue from these instruments.
    SCS is the method of last resort for chronic pain classified as radiculopathy.
    For more information on SCS, manufacturers and complaints about these devices visit the FDA website – Medical Device Recalls. One my query the data base by manufacturer or general SCS device.
    Visiting the FDA website is the only way a patient can make an informed consent to have one implanted.
    There is a great deal of information your doctor does not know about the risks involved and the fine print on the back of the information CD is so small one needs a magnifying glass or microscope to read it.

  31. Carl Dobs at 4:03 am

    1. Not a balanced scientific discussion of risks and benefits. It is a one sided article, more of a sales pitch than medically meaningful discussion.
    2. 30% of people needed same or MORE opioids in spite of SCS. What happens to those people?
    3. With any of the currently available SCS units there is at best CONDITIONAL MRI COMPATIBILITY according to FDA. That means that one of the most valuable diagnostic tools will have limited applicability for the rest of the patients life. The presence of an SCS MAY prevent the use of MRI for needed future diagnosis. Therefore anyone with an SCS will be precluded from the full range of medically useful tests that are available to NON-SCS patients.
    4. The manufacturer representative, not the doctor, are usually the first person called to discuss problems. These representatives do not have the same legal and fiduciary responsibility for the patient that the doctor has.
    5. Data about long term (5 to 10 or more years) complications are totally absent from the medical literature. Why is that? The devices have been around for at least 20 years.
    6. There is no available data about the use in specific subsets of chronic pain: e.g., arachnoiditis, CRPS, spinal stenosis, etc.
    7 There is no long term data about interaction of the devices in the presence of PROGRESSIVE spinal conditions such as progressive degenerative disc disease with spinal stenosis. There are clearly patients out there. Why has the data not been collected and why is it not published?
    8. Physiologic flow of CSF throughout the spinal canal…both caudal and rostrally diriected….is normal physiology. The presence of a space occupying object that affects the dimensions of the spinal canal will disrupt CSF circulation. Will scar tissue around the leads have serious long term effects on CSF flow?
    9. There is no question that SCS units can decrease pain and result in significant improvement for many people. BUT….there is insufficient information to enable patients to give meaningful informed consent.

    More balanced reporting is needed