ad: PortRo-1

SCS implant (Spinal Cord Stimulation)

Discussion in 'Ham Radio Discussions' started by W5NIG, Mar 29, 2011.

Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
ad: L-HROutlet
ad: l-rl
ad: l-gcopper
ad: L-rfparts
ad: Subscribe
ad: K3QNTad-1
  1. W5NIG

    W5NIG Ham Member QRZ Page

    Sort of an odd one here but ...

    I have a lot of back problems and was going to be talking with my Dr. next month and discuss options of an SCS. Has anyone here had one done? Besides the obvious questions (what brand did you go with, how well does it work for you etc) I am really interested in finding out if you have had any interference issues with the device from RF at your station, Low power up to kw range etc.

    They say you can't do similar things that pacemaker users do (no arc welding etc etc) but I"m not finding much info out there!

    Michael de W5NIG
  2. KG4RRH

    KG4RRH Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    I currently don't have one but I've thought about it a lot. On the interference use use an external TENS unit today? I can "hear" mine on HF, all over the place on my FT857. Not broad noise but at specific freq's that are harmonic related. It's easy to filter with the radio itself but then I'm a VHF/UHF/microwave kind of guy and really don't know if it would be a problem in every day HF use. On the plus side, I've been off regular use of pain meds since March of '07.

    One thing I can say is that imbedded electrodes near one's spine makes for a rather interesting RF detector. That really caused me to go on a mission to "eliminate" (...ok, reduce ) RF in the shack. New coax, chokes, several new coax connectors, tune up on my antennas, and a lot of antenna grounding work took that from a "...WHAT WAS THAT!!" state down to a level where I almost can't tell.

    Good luck though; a bad back isn't fun at all.
  3. W5NIG

    W5NIG Ham Member QRZ Page

    Hey Mike! Thanks for the reply : ) Well I already have a steel rod (herrington rod) in my back from when i was about 17 to correct a really bad spine curve from scoliosis. That sitting right next to an electrode might be a nice sympathetic antenna, lol, hadn't really thought about that before! hehe.

    The meds he gives me help some but my tolerance is so high that I often have to take more than is prescribed to get any relief; this of course leads to going frequently a week or more at the end of the month without any meds. I'd rather have good relief for half the month and suffer at the end than taking it as I should and still being in pain all month :/ ...he doesn't want to bump my med level up yet but I understand his position since I haven't been seeing him that long.. That's why I"m looking for alternatives. I have an inversion table that I bought from Walmart years ago for like $200 bucks, sometimes it helps,

    ...also have as you mention, an external TENS unit that I've had for ages. It's a fairly advanced model for it's age but still really doesn't provide much relief at all since it's external and I know my problem is spinal nerves... that and the damned pads slip while working/sweating and come loose etc, really a pain (pardon the pun) to use!

    ...I haven't used my tens unit while on the air other than while mobile and on 40m, haven't noticed a difference there but my noise level is usually an s7 or better mobile anyway.... I'll have to do a sweep with it on and off and see where the harmonics pop up!

    ....but my question is more aimed at will the hamshack RF interfere (or damage) with the device while in operation, etc. The beams are a couple of hundred feet away from the house but still wondering... Guess I"ll randomly add to the post here and keep it 'fresh' for a few days to see if someone has one :) ....I suppose someone with a pace maker would be similar though, probably about as poorly shielded as an SCS, heh.
    Thanks mike!
    Michael W5NIG
  4. AB1OD

    AB1OD Guest

    I've done a bit of research, since my wife has an occipital nerve stimulator (same technology, just plugged into the skull, rather than the spine) and I wanted to make sure that putting up an HF antenna and going on the air wouldn't cause her harm. (I've only been licensed since December. My first HF antenna will be going up, I hope, this coming weekend.)

    If you ask the hardware manufacturers the question, the response will be pretty negative. However, that negativity seems to be driven by liability concerns more than genuine safety.

    Asking around, the feedback seems to be that stim patients can be hams, but they will want to take more care than usual to stay away from radiating elements. In plotting where I can run HF antennas around the house, I assume that I need to triple the minimum safe distance given my wife's borgification, that I'll need to be extra vigilant about RFI prevention matters.

    I suspect I'm still being paranoid, but better safe than sorry. I'm feeling comfortable that I can operate at 100 watts, but I'm not going to invest in an amp while we are in our current house / until we move someplace where an antenna farm can be a bit more removed from her living space. Your mileage may vary.

    I will also mention that the induction charger that my XYL uses to recharge her stim is extremely noisy. Keep it unplugged when not in use, and either plan to not play radio while recharging, or to have good noise filtering.

    Addendum: When my wife was being considered for her implant, the pain specialist gave her a temporary stim for a couple of weeks to confirm that it would be useful for her circumstances. (Temporary stim = electrodes implanted, but leads and controller kept external.) I'm not certain, but I would assume that a similar trial gadget is available for spinal cord stimulation. It may be a way to find out whether a stim would be truly effective for you and/or to what extent (if any) you might have to adjust your AR practices if it is therapeutic.
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 29, 2011
  5. WS2L

    WS2L Guest

    I have a friend who suffers from RSD and he has probably the same type of implant. I do not know how messed up your back is but his is pretty messed up.

    I hope the treatment gives you the relief from the pain that you seek. I have had 2 surgeries on my lower back and both of my shoulders. The shoulder surgery was by far the most painful experience I ever had. The Doctor had me on a 50mcg Fentanyl patch and Roxicodone 30mg 6 times a day and I still had problems with breakthrough pain.
  6. W0HU

    W0HU Ham Member QRZ Page


    My friend W7RLR has e-mailed you at your listed e-mail here on QRZ. He can help you with this.

    Jerry W0HU
  7. K0RGR

    K0RGR Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    Following the advice of the manufacturer is your best bet. Personally, if they told me that being exposed to high RF fields was going to be a problem, I'd have to think a long time about having it done, ham radio or no ham radio. In modern life, we're all exposed to high levels of RF. Do you ever drive by a 50,000 watt broadcast station? There are high powered paging radios all over the place. If medical implant devices caused problems in such environments, I think there'd be bodies stacked up like cord wood on the road in front of the local FM station.

    In any case, having the antennas as far from the house as possible is a good idea, anyway. regardless of implants.
  8. W5NIG

    W5NIG Ham Member QRZ Page

    scs continued...

    Jerry, thanks for the heads up, received your friends email last night and will look forward to writing him in depth when I get a bit of time and can come up with a good list of questions : )

    ....with the SCS in there I wonder if my herrington rod would be a quarter wave on 2m? (grinning)

    ...and bill I agree with you about putting antennas as far away as possible. The only one close currently is a 2m jpole on a 20ft pole next to the back porch which I am converting into a hamshack (some day it will be finished...sigh..) ...the tower is a good ways back, but I'll have to get out there this evening and measure it off for fun.

    Thanks for the advice on the rf hash noice Michael, good to know ahead of time! My wife had bought one of those Homedic bath tub whirl pool doohickies that hand over the side of the tub and the PS for the darned thing put out a HUGE amount of noise! Took me an hour to figure out what it was! The thing was using the hose wiring for an antenna, lol.

    Guess I need to do a new RF evaluation of the shack/house just to see what I'm dealing with, should be fun!
  9. KA4DPO

    KA4DPO Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    I broke my neck in 1992 Mike and have had 3 operations to repair the damage including titanium implants. It took me a long time and a lot of therapy and work to get over it but I can do anything I want except play golf. I can play but not very well so I don't bother. Anyway, I'm in pain all day every day and don't take meds since I don't like what they do to me. About ten years ago I went to self hypnosis training for pain management and it is helpful, not a miracle but it does help me sleep.

    I have heard of the SCS units you described and I would caution you to continue to ask questions and research it carefully before you decide. I don't need to tell you that once they alter your spine there is no going back and if anything goes wrong you are stuck with it. I hope that if you do get one it will provide you with some relief. Chronic pain is a dibilitating disease in itself that most people can't understand, I know I didn't until it happened to me.

    Good luck to you and please let us know how it works for you.

  10. N5XM

    N5XM Ham Member QRZ Page

    I've often wished that those who don't understand chronic pain had to live in my body for one month. That would sure change their tune. I've gotten to the point where I do OK most of the time, but when the wx changes, it's the straw that breaks the camels back. If I walk a little too much, bammo, I'm down. If my xly asks me to move something, I'm down. This pisses me off because I was a strong and powerful football player in my day (I still hold the school record for the leg press, over a thousand pounds, 40 years later) doesn't do me any damn good now, though. I'm not gonna go into all my injuries and problems, but they are enough for 3 people. Yeah, you can get pain docs to give you a lot of powerful pain medicine, but in the long run, all the negative side effects come out. Massage helps me, but I get tired of always having to beg my son to work on me. Meditation helps as does positive thinking, but you talk about a catch-22. My heart is out to all of you.
Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.

Share This Page