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Patients Review Spinal Cord Stimulation...

Posted May 07 2009 9:20pm

DH and I are obsessed with product reviews. Actually, DH is obsessed and I have a healthy appreciation. He
subscribes to Consumer Reports and when it came time to expand our family with a flat-screen tv, he spent months pouring over reviews and gadget blogs. He also talked about the whole process with anyone who would listen, including random people on the street (or at least it seemed that way). All of the obsessing paid off though because in April of 2008, we welcomed a beautiful new 46" Samsung into our living room. At first, there were many late nights (we didn't get much sleep) and lots of channel changing. However, we eventually settled into a nice routine and Samsung continues to delight us on a daily basis.

I like to read book reviews (no surprise there). is my friend. I won't purchase a book without first having established that it doesn't suck. The same goes for make-up. I get nervous in front of make-up ladies (cue the sweaty upper-lip) and I like to have a game-plan before heading into the cosmetics war zone. I've been bamboozled a few times into buying colors that simply don't work on my deathly pallor (I hearken back to the time when I purchased a dark red lipstick only to have my father tell me I looked like a clown). So, is my friend (side-note to reader sherigirl..these comments do not apply to you).

Anyway, I'm telling you this because I found a website that offers user reviews of surgical procedures, including spinal cord stimulation. This got me thinking about the fact that patients are consumers and, as such, it makes sense for patients to approach the decision-making process regarding a neurostimulator in the same manner as one would when evaluating any other consumer product. In a way, thinking of ourselves in this context feels a little icky (or at least it does for me). We want to think that our doctors and device representatives have only the goal of managing our pain in mind. That simply isn't the case. There are other interests at play and it behooves us not to ignore this fact. I say this, not to be cynical, but to empower those of you who are about to embark on the decision making process.

Revolution Health is the website and, according to Wikipedia, it serves a similar function as WebMD. The user rating section allows patients to review medications and treatments. Each review is divided into 4 categories, including: perceived effectiveness, ease of use, tolerability, and whether the patient would recommend the procedure or drug (i.e. product). There is also a section where the patient can write a paragraph about his or her experience.

Two downsides to the stimulator reviews are the fact that the most recent review was written in 2007 (though I will change this when I post my own review) and there are no reviews written by patients with RSD or pain syndromes other than Failed Back Surgery Syndrome, Degenerative Disc Disease, and Peripheral Neuropathy. It would be nice to see a greater range of patients writing reviews given that neurostimulators have a diverse application.

Also included on the site are user reviews for many medications commonly prescribed for patients in chronic pain, including: traditional narcotic pain relievers, and medications such as Lyrica, Neurontin, Nortriptyline and Effexor (the list goes on).

If you're interested in reading the current reviews, or possibly posting your own, click on the following link:

And before I sign out, I'd like to note that I tried my hardest to come up with a cheesy title to this post to remain in keeping with my usual practice. Alas, I am tired. I have no cheese. I failed this time but am confident that it won't be long before I'm posting again with some sort of horribly cliche title. That's a promise.
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