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Spinal Cord Stimulator Placement


A spinal cord stimulator (SCS) is a device used to control pain after other treatments have not worked. The SCS delivers a small amount of electrical current to your spinal cord to block pain. SCS placement is surgery that is done in 2 stages. In the first stage, a temporary SCS is placed and left in for about a week. In the second stage, a permanent SCS is placed if the temporary device reduced your pain. You will get a remote control to turn the pulse generator on and off and adjust the pulses.



You may need any of the following:

  • Pain medicine takes away or decreases your pain. Do not wait until the pain is severe before you take your medicine.
  • Antibiotics are given to prevent or treat an infection caused by bacteria.
  • Take your medicine as directed. Contact your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him or her if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.

Follow up with your healthcare provider or surgeon as directed:

You will need to have the temporary SCS removed or replaced with a permanent SCS. After the permanent SCS is placed, you will need to return to have your stitches removed and the device checked. Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.


Follow these safety instructions for 6 to 8 weeks or as directed by your healthcare provider or surgeon:

  • Do not bend at the waist, twist, stretch.
  • Do not sleep on your stomach.
  • Do not lift anything heavier than 5 pounds.
  • Do not drive until your healthcare provider says it is okay.

What you need to know about your SCS:

  • Your healthcare provider will give you an identification card with information about your device. Keep this with you at all times. Show the card to all your healthcare providers and tell them you have an implanted SCS. Some tests and procedures may damage the SNS.
  • Turn off the SCS before you walk through a security system, including in stores. The SCS can set off security systems. Metal detectors and security systems can also increase the stimulation from the SCS. Show your identification card and ask to get through security points without going through security systems.
  • Turn off the SCS before you drive or operate machinery or power tools. Microwave ovens are safe to use.
  • The device can damage or erase credit cards and computer disks. Keep them at least 2 inches away from your SNS.
  • Ask your healthcare provider for instructions on bathing and swimming once your wound has healed.
  • Ask your healthcare provider before you scuba dive or enter a hyperbaric chamber. These activities can cause the leads to move and increase pain.

Wound care:

Ask your healthcare provider or surgeon how to care for your surgery wound. Look for signs of infection each day, such as swelling, redness, pain, or pus. You will need to know how to clean the wound and when to change your bandages. Ask if you need to keep the wound covered when you bathe.


Ice helps decrease swelling and pain. Ice may also help prevent tissue damage. Use an ice pack, or put crushed ice in a plastic bag. Cover it with a towel and place it on your wound for 15 to 20 minutes every hour or as directed.


Ask your healthcare provider or surgeon about exercises you can do safely while you have the SCS. Light exercise can help you get stronger and may help decrease pain.

Contact your healthcare provider or surgeon if:

  • Your incisions become swollen, red, more painful, or have pus coming from them.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

Seek care immediately or call 911 if:

  • You have a fever.
  • Blood soaks through your bandage.
  • You have back pain, numbness or tingling in your arms or legs, or muscle weakness.
  • You have difficulty urinating or having a bowel movement.
  • You have a stiff or sore neck.
  • You have nausea or are vomiting.
  • You have a severe headache or a seizure.
  • You become confused or feel faint.
  • You are unable to move part of your body.

© Copyright IBM Corporation 2018 Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or IBM Watson Health

The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.

Learn more about Spinal Cord Stimulator Placement (Discharge Care)

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