Daily Living – Neurostimulators

If successful, neurostimulation can help you manage your chronic pain and improve your ability to participate in your usual daily activities.1,2 Talk with your doctor about activities that may be easier with neurostimulation. Many people experience improvements in their pain symptoms and quality of life after receiving Medtronic neurostimulation therapy.

Life with a Neurostimulator

After the initial healing period (6-8 weeks), neurostimulation therapy for pain relief will become a routine part of your day.

The neurostimulator:

  • Does not make any noise 
  • Does not usually show through your clothes 
  • May be felt as a small bump under your skin 
  • Can be adjusted using hand-held programmers (similar to a cell phone or pager) 

Doctor Visits

A typical follow-up schedule is once every 6 months, although initially the neurostimulation system may require more frequent adjustments. Your doctor may want to see you more or less frequently, depending on your pain treatment plan.

Between visits, you should call your doctor if:

  • You experience additional/unusual pain 
  • You notice unusual changes in the quality of your stimulation or you experience no sensation when the neurostimulation system is turned on 
  • You are increasing stimulation more often than normal 
  • The stimulation pattern changes unexpectedly 

Realistic Expectations

Realistic expectations are key to satisfaction with any pain treatment. It is important to remember that your neurostimulator will not eliminate the source of your pain or cure any underlying disease, but can help you manage the pain.

Understanding Your Programmer Alerts

Your patient programmer not only allows you to adjust your stimulation settings, but also alerts you when action must be taken with your programmer or neurostimulation system. Warning screens indicate a problem with the patient programmer, the antenna, or the neurostimulator. If the audio is turned on, three tones alert you to the message.

Following are some of the warning screens you may encounter and the actions you should take.

LowBatteryIcon Programmer Batteries Are Low
Replace the programmer batteries before they become depleted.
ReplaceBatteryIcon Replace Programmer Batteries
Replace the programmer batteries now.
PoorCommunicationIcon Poor Communication
Reposition the programmer over the neurostimulator with the screen facing outward and try again. If using a detachable antenna, check to make sure the antenna is connected properly, reposition the antenna, and try again.
NonRechargeBatLowIcon Nonrechargeable Implanted Neurostimulator Battery Level Is Low
Call your clinician to schedule a visit. Press any arrow on the navigator key to clear the screen. After clearing this screen, a low battery icon appears on the Status row of the therapy section.
CallDoctorIcon Call Your Doctor
Read the error code at the bottom of the screen. Error codes 0 to 252: Remove batteries from the patient programmer, wait several seconds, then re-insert the batteries. If the error message appears again, call your doctor. Other codes: Write down the code shown on the screen and call your doctor.
EOS-Icon Call Your Doctor
Your neurostimulator has reached end of service. Stimulation is not available. Call your doctor.

For complete information about screens that may appear on your patient programmer, refer to the Patient Programmer Manual.

Removing the Neurostimulator

If you no longer need the neurostimulator or change your mind about the pain treatment, your doctor can turn it off or remove the system. 

Getting the Most from Your Neurostimulation Therapy

In the recorded webinar below, Dr. David Provenzano presents:

  • Tips to optimize your therapy
  • Taking care of your device
  • Support services offered by Medtronic

In addition, Dr. Provenzano answers questions such as:

How will I know when it’s time to replace my device?
How can I prepare for travel when I have neurostimulation therapy?
When should I contact my doctor?

Getting the Most from Your Medtronic Neurostimulation Therapy

Part IPart IIPart III


  1. Kumar K, Taylor RS, Jacques L, et al. Spinal cord stimulation versus conventional medical management for neuropathic pain: a multicentre randomised controlled trial in patients with failed back surgery syndrome. Pain. 2007;132:179-188.
  2. Kumar K, et al. The Effects of Spinal Cord Stimulation in Neuropathic Pain Are Sustained: A 24-month Follow-up of the Prospective Randomized Controlled Multicenter Trial of the Effectiveness of Spinal Cord Stimulation. Neurosurgery. 2008; 63:762-770.

Information on this site should not be used as a substitute for talking with your doctor. Always talk with your doctor about diagnosis and treatment information.

Last updated: 18 Feb 2013

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