Frequently Asked Questions About Life With a Neurostimulation System

This page answers some commonly asked questions that patients have about recovering from the implant procedure and about living with a neurostimulation system.

What is the normal recovery time for the procedure?
For most patients, the healing process takes about six to eight weeks. During this time, you may experience discomfort at the implant site. This discomfort should decrease as you recover, but neurostimulation cannot relieve discomfort associated with the procedure.

When can I resume physical activities?
Your doctor will determine when you should resume physical activities. In most cases, you will need to avoid bending, twisting, and lifting anything heavier than five pounds for at least six to eight weeks after the implant procedure to allow your body to heal around the implanted system.

Can I shower or swim with a neurostimulator?
Most people with an implanted system can shower and swim once their incisions are completely healed. However, you will need to check with your doctor before doing either activity.

Can I drive with a neurostimulator on?
No. While driving or operating heavy machinery or power tools, you will need to turn the neurostimulator off. Stimulation can vary, depending on your position. This variability can be distracting and unsafe if you are driving or operating heavy machinery or power tools. However, you may ride as a passenger with the neurostimulator on.

Can I travel with the neurostimulator?
Yes. However, you will need to carry your patient ID card with you. You will receive the ID card when you receive a permanent system. The information found on this card may be necessary in case of an emergency. Keep in mind that certain metal detectors and antitheft devices may affect stimulation. Your ID card may help you obtain clearance though these devices. However, if you must proceed through the metal detector or antitheft device, turn off your neurostimulator and proceed with caution, ensuring to move through the device quickly.

Whom can I call if I have concerns about my neurostimulator?
You can call your doctor if you have concerns about your incisions, pain, or the sensations associated with the neurostimulator. If you have concerns about the equipment itself, you can call your St. Jude Medical representative.

Can I get my settings reprogrammed if needed?
Patients commonly need their settings fine-tuned. If you do not experience sufficient pain relief, you will need to call your doctor’s office to schedule a programming session with your St. Jude Medical representative. Your doctor and representative will do their best to adjust your settings to provide improved pain relief.

Should I expect to experience changes in stimulation as I move?
It is normal for patients to experience changes in stimulation when changing positions. These changes are caused by lead movement. As your body recovers during the healing process, the leads may become more stable and the changes may decrease. However, some changes in stimulation may always occur with movement.

Will I be able to have an MRI after the implant?
You should not have an MRI once the system is implanted. The electromagnetic field generated by an MRI is not compatible with the neurostimulation system. Other diagnostic tests should be done instead of an MRI. You should discuss this restriction with your doctor. You can also refer our Important Safety Information page for more information.