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patient education : 14128--Spinal Cord Stimulator Implant

Instructions for taking care of yourself after spinal cord stimulator implant

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PDF document icon PE14128_eng_Spinal Cord Stimulator Implant.pdf — PDF document, 43 KB (44405 bytes)
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    Theses instructions will help you take care of yourself at home.


    • Start with clear liquids after you reach home.
    • Wait 45 minutes and if you do not feel sick, try bland foods first and then progress to your usual diet.
    • Drink plenty of fluids (water, juice).


    • Rest up today and resume normal activity tomorrow.
    • ·       NO driving for 2-3 weeks. Your Doctor will discuss with you at your follow-up visit.
    • NO chiropractic care or heavy lifting.
    • AVOID high impact, reaching or bending.
    • DO NOT twist or bend your body or lift objects over your head (raise your arms) for 6-8 weeks. If you do, the stimulator leads might move out of place. If your wires get disconnected, come out or are broken, turn off the system AT ONCE and contact your Spinal Cord Stimulator representative.


    Leads: The SCS leads will be connected to an implanted generator. The generator is implanted either in your abdomen or low back/flank area. You may have bruising along this area and it may be painful. It will take 4-8 weeks for the leads to scar in place and stabilize placement.\

    Wound Care: You will have internal sutures that are dissolvable. Your incision line will be covered by skin glue called Dermabond or staples may be used.  If you have the Dermabond, this will come off on its own in 5-7 days. If you have staples, you may apply Antibiotic ointment and gauze to the incision daily until you are seen for your follow up visit.

    You may shower in 48 hours. Use Hibiclens soap washing gently over the incision site daily and pat dry. DO NOT submerge yourself in a bathtub or pool for 3 weeks or until incision line is completely healed.

    You will be scheduled for a follow up appointment around 10 days post op and 4 weeks. Please call if you have not received these appointments. At your post op visit we will check the incisions, evaluate your pain control, and have you meet with your SCS representative who will adjust your stimulator program if necessary.

    Whether you can have a MRI depends upon the manufacturer of your SCS. Discuss with the Pain Management team or call the manufacture prior to having an MRI. There are no restrictions if you are having a CT scan or X-ray.

    The stimulator company will mail you an ID card in 4-6 weeks. Keep this will you at all times.

    Should you experience a change in your pain coverage, problems charging the generator, fell like “it’s just not helping my pain”, call your SCS representative FIRST. The representative will arrange to meet with you to analyze and reprogram your stimulator.


    • Watch for any signs of infection after surgery: Call immediately if any drainage fever greater than 100.4, chills, increased pain, redness, or swelling.
    • Any signs or symptoms of a spinal headache: such as nausea, headache that is worse when you are standing or sitting and better when you are lying down.
    • New weakness of legs or arms.
    • New nerve pains.
    • New loss of ability to hold or control your urine and/or bowels (you are peeing and/or pooping on yourself).
    • No urine output (not peed) eight (8) hours after surgery.
    • No bowel movement (not pooped) in three (3) days.
    • Vomiting that lasts more than four (4) hours.
    • Concerns about bleeding (more than one teaspoon).

    If you have questions or concerns, call the UVA Pain Management Center, Monday- Friday, 8:00-5:00, 434-243-5676 (main) or 800-251-3627 (toll free).

    For EMERGENCIES after hours, weekends, or holidays call the UVA Hospital Operator at 1-434-924-0000, pager number 1415 and ask for the Pain Service Fellow on-call. If you go to the emergency room, please take this information sheet with you.  

    Call 911 if you have chest pain or shortness of breath.




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