Spinal stenosis: Spinal cord stimulator vs laminectomy

Posted by kristineberry @kristineberry, Oct 26, 2019

Trying to do research for my 72-yr old mother who has stenosis in L4/L5. She has tried steroids, pain meds, etc. but has had no relief and is now really struggling to walk, when she was dancing earlier this year. She had a doctor tell her she should get a laminectomy. When she saw the neurosurgeon where she lives (rural area) he told her she should consider a spinal cord stimulator instead of surgery. I’m trying to understand why he would recommend this option instead of surgery, when she has no other complicating risk factors (i.e. she is otherwise healthy, not on medication, doesn’t smoke, etc.). Can’t find anything online about comparing the two treatment options. All I can find is about using a stimulator after a failed laminectomy, not reasons to use a stimulator instead of a laminectomy. Seems like it is treating the symptoms and not the underlying problem. Any advice or data is appreciated.

@kristenberry. Welcome to connect . We aren't Dr,s but can help with problems similar to ours. I don't have stenosis but have 2 fractures one is the L4 My pain Dr told me about the stimulater and explained they put 2 wires on either side of your spinal canal and external pack to signal pain then it sends a electri message to brain to stop the pain. There has been a lot of talk on here of good and bad results some have had this procedure then had it taken out . For me I don't want anything near my spinal colum so do the injections which last 3 months . This is just the information I received from my Dr. Has your explained it to you ?

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Hello @kristineberry, I'd like to add my welcome to lioness'. I'd also like to invite a few members who have had experience with a laminectomy, spinal stimulator, or both. @rjmcb, @cbrackle, @amyjo4003, and @joanmahon have talked about one or both treatments and may be able to share their experiences with both. I'd also like to invite @ashby1947, @candrgonzalez, @sandytoes14, and @rayreich3 as they have all discussed living with spinal stenosis on Connect as well.

@kristineberry, not knowing your mother's exact situation, here are some potential resources to explore:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10690729
https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/laminectomy/about/pac-20394533

@kristineberry, you mentioned you were confused as to why the provider suggested a stimulator in favor of surgery. Did he or she discuss age and surgery complications as a potential issue? Would a stimulator still require a surgery to place the leads?

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May I ask which treatment you choose? I'm facing this situation today and don't understand why the doctor isn't treating the problem instead of the symptom. THanks

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I have cervical stenosis as well.

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@dearestdeana

May I ask which treatment you choose? I'm facing this situation today and don't understand why the doctor isn't treating the problem instead of the symptom. THanks

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Good afternoon @dearestdeana, Welcome……as in a big hearty hug for you from all of the members, mentors, and moderators on Connect. I don't think you have the "current" discussion you are seeking. The post dates for this one are older. I am going to ask one of our moderators to move your very first post to the right place. We want you to have the opportunity to see what decisions others have made. @johnbishop, will you find the right home for Deana, please.

May you be free and protected from inner and outer home.
Chris

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@dearestdeana

May I ask which treatment you choose? I'm facing this situation today and don't understand why the doctor isn't treating the problem instead of the symptom. THanks

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Hello @dearestdeana, I would like to add my welcome to Connect along with Chris @artscaping and other members. Is the question you are trying to get answered whether or not to have surgery or have a spinal cord stimulator implanted? If that is your question, I think you have to learn as much as you can about the options and discuss the pros and cons with your doctor/surgeon.

You may be interested in the following Sharing Mayo Clinic story from this past January — Spinal Cord Stimulator Ends 17 Years of Chronic Pain: https://sharing.mayoclinic.org/2020/01/20/spinal-cord-stimulator-ends-17-years-of-chronic-pain/

You may also be interested in another Mayo Clinic Newsfeed story on the same topic — New Developments in Spinal Stimulation for Pain Management: https://connect.mayoclinic.org/page/adult-pain-medicine/newsfeed-post/new-developments-in-spinal-stimulation/

I'm guessing you think surgery is the answer but your doctor is recommending a spinal cord stimulator and that only treats the symptoms and not the cause of the symptoms — is this what you are thinking?

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@johnbishop

Hello @dearestdeana, I would like to add my welcome to Connect along with Chris @artscaping and other members. Is the question you are trying to get answered whether or not to have surgery or have a spinal cord stimulator implanted? If that is your question, I think you have to learn as much as you can about the options and discuss the pros and cons with your doctor/surgeon.

You may be interested in the following Sharing Mayo Clinic story from this past January — Spinal Cord Stimulator Ends 17 Years of Chronic Pain: https://sharing.mayoclinic.org/2020/01/20/spinal-cord-stimulator-ends-17-years-of-chronic-pain/

You may also be interested in another Mayo Clinic Newsfeed story on the same topic — New Developments in Spinal Stimulation for Pain Management: https://connect.mayoclinic.org/page/adult-pain-medicine/newsfeed-post/new-developments-in-spinal-stimulation/

I'm guessing you think surgery is the answer but your doctor is recommending a spinal cord stimulator and that only treats the symptoms and not the cause of the symptoms — is this what you are thinking?

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Yes. I believe a laminectomy would take care of the problem which is causing my pain.

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@dearestdeana

Yes. I believe a laminectomy would take care of the problem which is causing my pain.

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@dearestdeana is your surgeon or doctor not wanting to do the laminectomy? I'm not sure if it's an option for you but If you would like to seek help from Mayo Clinic, you can contact one of the appointment offices. The contact information for Minnesota, Arizona and Florida can be found here http://mayocl.in/1mtmR63.

You can find more information here:
Mayo Clinic – Laminectomy: https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/laminectomy/about/pac-20394533

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Thank you for this information. My difficulty seems to be getting the doctor on the phone (or any other way) to discuss the situation and find out why he's choosing the stimulator. I think I need to find a new doctor!

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@dearestdeana

Thank you for this information. My difficulty seems to be getting the doctor on the phone (or any other way) to discuss the situation and find out why he's choosing the stimulator. I think I need to find a new doctor!

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@migizii I seem to be having a similar problem getting specific recommendations from my Mayo pulmonologist regarding best practices precautions for my bronchiectasis. I am 65, am stable in the illness, and his only response is “we recommend following cdc guidelines.” I have attempted asking more specific questions, but I am not getting any response. I don’t know about you, but this behavior appears different from this doctor. Anyone else have ideas?

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I'd get a new pulmonologist!

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@fighter

I'd get a new pulmonologist!

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You really think so?!?

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@migizii

@migizii I seem to be having a similar problem getting specific recommendations from my Mayo pulmonologist regarding best practices precautions for my bronchiectasis. I am 65, am stable in the illness, and his only response is “we recommend following cdc guidelines.” I have attempted asking more specific questions, but I am not getting any response. I don’t know about you, but this behavior appears different from this doctor. Anyone else have ideas?

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@migizii, I'm confused. Are you trying to get information about spinal surgery or stimulator and specific recommendations with respect to your having broncheictasis? Can you explain?

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@colleenyoung

@migizii, I'm confused. Are you trying to get information about spinal surgery or stimulator and specific recommendations with respect to your having broncheictasis? Can you explain?

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@colleenyoung I was writing in response to the issue of not getting answers to questions from my doctor as @dearestdeana was mentioning…..my issue was related to specific Covid recommendations for my bronchiectasis and I have only received “follow the cdc guidelines.” As I didn’t sense this as enough, I sent more specific questions and have tried twice to hear from him through the portal, with no response. It has been noted that my messages have been read. Is this any clearer?🤪

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@migizii

@colleenyoung I was writing in response to the issue of not getting answers to questions from my doctor as @dearestdeana was mentioning…..my issue was related to specific Covid recommendations for my bronchiectasis and I have only received “follow the cdc guidelines.” As I didn’t sense this as enough, I sent more specific questions and have tried twice to hear from him through the portal, with no response. It has been noted that my messages have been read. Is this any clearer?🤪

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Thank you, @migizii. You may be interested in this discussion and to ask your questions to other MAC members
– COVID-19 and MAC: What are you doing differently to protect yourself? https://connect.mayoclinic.org/discussion/covid-19/

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