I'm 37, have had CRPS for 5+ years. When they put the SCS in me I was 35. They never spoke of it being a last option, or used any kind of 'we're at the worst case scenario' type vocabulary. The wanted me to have it because I'm young (relatively), because I'm active and because symptoms were preventing me from living life. There were hoops to go through to get it, and I'm so glad I jumped
It's not a 100% fix and that was something they were very adamant that I understand before the trial: that they consider 50% pain reduction a success.
As for 'what options are you leaving yourself long-term?' I don't know your situation, but you are young, would be able to manage a SCS (it requires charging every couple days: I do it while on computer/watching tv/sometimes on transit), and I can tell you that the combination of SCS & meds (less strong than before) is much more effective than pain management w/o the SCS.
It's a tricky operation and the actual surgery is painful, in an icky way. You have to direct the surgeon while s/he moves the leads around to different nerves in your spine: you tell him/her where is is helping the pain, where it is not. For example, sometimes a nerve will affect your pelvis (makes for OR humour
. Fortunately for me, they were not able to narrow the stimulation to my right foot/ankle and I wound up with stimulation from my toes to my navel. As I have lower back pain and my CRPS has spread considerably, this has worked tremendously in my favour. After a long day I turn it up and the relief to my legs and back is better than any massage I had pre-CRPS. So, be flexible: things may help in the long run.
The recovery is 6-8 weeks (from the actual implant, the trial recovery is a couple days and caution around incision site). During the 6-8 wks you must lay horizontally as much as possible: make a list of all the films you want to stream & set yourself up on the couch as your new bedroom. You are not allowed to reach: can't wash your hair (not efficiently), can't get high things from cupboard, so make sure is someone has more than you think you'll need set out. You aren't allowed to lift anything that weighs more than 5 lbs (during recovery), 20 lbs for a period afterward.
The pain is significant, but as CRPS kids, it's nothing we can't handle and being forced to take it easy is a welcome instruction/obligation. I didn't need to take extra medication to medicate surgical pain. I just needed to be cautious about how I lay down: incision and battery sites will be painful.
I am fairly skinny, so they put my battery in my rear hip so it wouldn't stick out too much. It's about hockey puck-sized and sits just below low-waisted jeans. The right bikini covers it (and I don't have to wear a 50s-kini to do it). I sleep on my back or on the side w/battery and it's fine. Most people have the battery in front, above the hipbone. Consider where would be most comfortable for you.
The only issue w/having it in back is charging: it's a bother to keep the charger in the right spot. They issue you a charging belt (never worked for me) and stick-ons that connect the charger to your body. I usually stick the charger between my jeans and undies (a barrier between charger and skin is desired, though I'll admit I often put it directly on the skin). I charge for 2 hours as often as I can: I try to do it every night and while I am getting ready in the morning. That sounds like a lot, but it's effortless and keeps you topped up. A full SCS battery is like a full tank of gas: you feel like you can go anywhere.
I hope this helps. Please feel free to ask more questions if you like.
Also, my having a SCS doesn't mean I am not not treated for CRPS. I see my specialist hen I need to s symptoms change/develop and still receive treatment when needed: I've had a massive spread in the last few months (from nothing in 5 years) and started receiving lidocaine infusions this week. There is no sentiment that, 'If we give you this expensive machine, you should be grateful and not bother us with more complaints'. A SCS is part of the pain management system, as is ongoing medical treatment.