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patient education : 14133--UVA Pain Management Spinal Cord Stimulator Trial

Instructions on how to take care of yourself at home following spinal cord stimulator procedure

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PDF document icon PE14133_eng_Spnial Cord Stimulator (SCS Trial).pdf — PDF document, 42 KB (43310 bytes)
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    These 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).


    • DO NOT drive during your trial week.
    • 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) during this week. 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.
    • Take this opportunity to walk, climb stairs, or other normal activities. This gives you the chance to see how much the stimulator will help with your pain.


    During the week of your trial, you will meet with the Spinal Cord Stimulator (SCS) representative and a Doctor at the UVA Pain Management Center on the Wednesday (2 days after) and Friday (4 days after) to adjust/reprogram your stimulator and check your incision site. Please confirm your appointment times immediately after your procedure.

    IF THE WIRES ARE PLACED IN THE BACK OF YOUR NECK: You will go home from the surgery wearing a soft neck collar. Please keep this on for the whole week.

    DO NOT shower during the week of your trial and absolutely NO TUB BATHS. You may wash yourself using water from the sink. Do not wash the area where the wires enter your back.

    Keep the surgical dressing dry. It is normal to see some oozing. You can reinforce surgical dressing by adding sterile gauze on top if you wish.

    After 5-7 days your leads will be removed at your follow up appointment. You and the doctors will decide it the stimulator trial was successful in reducing your pain and what the best plan is for you.


    • 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 upright 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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