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    Intercostal Neuralgia - Spinal Stimulator Treatment?
    SarahT1991 posted:
    Hi - I'm new to this community and happy to see there is one! I've had chronic severe pain (mid to upper back, right side) for 12 years. It just came on like a burning knife through my back one day, and never left. It's worst when I sit, a bit better when I'm lying down. Over the years, I have run the gamut of doctors, PT, drugs, injections, blocks, psychotherapy, etc. As a teen (1973-74), I had multiple sponaneous collapsed lungs, causes unknown, and eventually I had to have a thoracotomy on both sides. Back then, it was a huge operation. They cut from the front chest all the way around to the back, my rib cage was shifted around and some ribs were spread wide so doctors could get in there to work on the lungs. For lack of a better term, they sort of "roughed up" the tissue inside my chest and "attached" the lungs to my chest wall to prevent further collapses. I have always suspected that scar tissue might be causing my current pain, but no doctor has ever agreed. Finally I was referred to a pain center, and they tried various injections, medications, etc. A 10 year old MRI didn't show much, and a new MRI done 2 weeks ago shows a bulging thoracic disc. I saw a neurosurgeon who said he believes the pain is not from the disc, it's from "intercostal neuralgia" - the nerve that runs in between the ribs. He suggested a spinal stimulator.

    Does anyone have experience with intercostal neuralgia, or a spinal stimulator? On 12/4/12 I am supposed to have a temporary stimulator put in as a trial to see if it works. Any information on this condition, or successful treatments, would be greatly appreciated.

    lifeholes4 responded:

    I had a spinal stimulator implanted this year. It took the trial and two surgeries to implant. The process is very painful. Its been a little over 2 months since my last operation. The stimulator is not what I thought it would be. For me the trial procedure was so painful I never really could tell if it would really help or not but had the stimulator implanted anyway. It helps sometimes I think but my pain is random and can go from bad to severe very quickly and for no apparent reasons.

    Think twice about putting yourself at risk for more pain because for me that's what happened. I have more pain no from complications and slow healing from the surgeries.

    Good luck
    ctbeth replied to lifeholes4's response:
    Hi SarahT and lifeholes~

    My response to the SCS has been totally different than yours, Lifeholes.

    I do not want to write about my pathology, but I was offered the spinal cord stimulator a few years ago. I was using the Fentanyl patch and not getting adequate pain management with the meds anymore.

    The very second the trial unit was turned on, I got immediate relief.

    For me, the implant required one, not two surgeries. Of course, there are two incisions: one for the battery and one to place the paddle leads.

    For me, the surgery wasn't terribly painful. It was not fun, but I did not find it terrible.

    Of course, anyone should, "think twice", as lifeholes says. This is not something to enter into without having it thought through.

    The trial is temporary, the procedure for putting the temporary in is minor and pretty quick. You will then have the opportunity to feel for yourself what it can do- or not do.

    Lifeholes, it sounds as if your trial wasn't so great. For me, I had no doubts at all that this treatment would help me tremendously. I went in for the permanent SCS knowing that the sensations were beneficial for me.

    I actually am glad that SarahT now has a reply from someone who didn't like it and someone who did. It helps some and does not help others. This is why the trial is so very important.

    There are other discussions on SCS on this site. Look around a bit and you'll probably find some more people who have written of their experience.

    The SCS has helped some of us very much, and others have not liked it.

    I do hope that, if you do go ahead with the trial, that it helps you as much as it does me.
    SarahT1991 replied to lifeholes4's response:
    Lifeholes and CTBeth,
    Thank you so much for the information. I do want to hear about good and bad possible outcomes - the more info the better! I tend to not heal very quickly or very well, and that needs to be figured into my decision. Both of your posts are very helpful. After my original post I found that I could search the site and have come across more information about the SCS, but not anything about intercostal neuralgia, the diagnosis I was just given. This forum is such a good thing for chronic pain sufferers. I am not alone with my pain. That's something I need to hear over and over so I don't descend down into a pity-party. Thanks again, and good luck to both of you! Sarah T
    ctbeth replied to SarahT1991's response:

    Am I correct that your trial is on 4 Dec?

    I am eager to know how it goes. Will you try to remember to write and keep us updated?

    I also gave you my email address on another post.
    caspertab responded:
    I have had intercostal and chest wall nerve damage for 9 years. It happened during a finger surgery and the anesthesiologist caused a pneumothorax. A chest tube was inserted but in the wrong place, so had to be re done. I like you have gone through everything. In 2004 a Spinal Cord Stimulator was implanted and in 2009 a Pain Pump. The two together have been belping. Nine months ago I began experiencing pain at my pump site and tingling down my leg. It turned out to be a bulging thoracic disc. Last week I had a discectomy and it will take a few weeks to know if it was successful. I am hoping so as the next procedure would have to be done by a spine surgeon. My stimulator is in its 8th year and was told it would last 5 years and I can tell will need replacing. I have one of the first models which came out that were battery charged and am looking into a more efficient model with another company. I am 65 years old and take into consideration my age and how many more stimulators I will need in my life! I have an excellent pain management dr.which really helps as I found other doctors had dificulty treating intercostal neuralgia. Hang in there, it isn't easy.
    AC_mom responded:
    Do you still have the Intercostal Neuralgia as your diagnosis? I know that your last response in this feed has been months. I have Intecostal Neuralgia. After 6 years, here I am. On many meds and the end of the rope so it seems. I have gone through several surgeries, injection, blocks. botox in the region and even went to a chiropractor for 3 times a week for 18 months! . And I have chosen not to go with the SCC at this time. Seems too invasive for me. Please reply so we can help each other .

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