This Blog Covers...
- Spinal cord stimulation (SCS) is a minimally invasive procedure that uses electrodes strategically placed along the spine to reduce pain.
- A spinal cord stimulator may work best for patients suffering from neuropathic or spinal pain.
- The pain management specialists at American Spine discuss how spinal cord stimulation may reduce some chronic pain symptoms.
Spinal cord stimulators are unique devices that send electrical impulses along the spine to prevent pain signals from being received by the brain and felt in the body. Different degrees of neuropathic pain may be in the form of complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS), arachnoiditis, sciatica and more. These conditions often produce inexplicable surges of pain throughout the body, which is why physicians may consider a spinal cord stimulator for pain relief and treatment.
It’s important patients understand spinal cord stimulators do not eliminate the source of pain completely. Instead, the device sends electrical impulses from low-frequency electrodes down the spine to reduce pain. These electrodes act as roadblocks by interfering with pain signals and replacing them with mild tingling sensations.
The tingling sensation may be unpleasant for some, but for others it may be a better alternative to intense, throbbing pain. Patients must undergo a trial implantation before a permanent device can be surgically implanted. This trial device will help your American Spine physician better understand how you experience pain and if a spinal cord stimulator will provide relief. Ultimately, the goal for patients undergoing spinal cord stimulation is to decrease pain by 50-70%.
If you’re about to undergo spinal cord stimulation, or if you’re just curious how the device works, below is what you can expect during the procedure:
Your pain management physician will administer an anesthetic to decrease discomfort during the procedure. A hollow epidural needle will then be inserted through a small incision around the spinal cord (the epidural space) where insulated lead wires will then be placed along the spine. Once the leads are in place, the physician will perform a series of tests and then close the incisions.
The trial stimulator will be tested for about a week or two after the procedure to determine if it can provide adequate pain relief. If the spinal cord stimulator is deemed successful, your American Spine physician will replace the temporary leads in your spine with permanent ones. Your pain management physician, with the help of the external wireless programmer, will also program the device to deliver certain electrical frequencies at different times in the day. The external programmer allows patients to turn the device on and off and adjust the power. Call American Spine today if you’d like to learn more about spinal cord stimulation for neuropathic pain.
At American Spine, we are dedicated to treating chronic pain and spine conditions. Offering the latest in minimally invasive spine surgery and other effective treatment options, American Spine is the leading pain physician group of California. For more information or to schedule an appointment, please call us at (951)-734-PAIN (7246).
The advice and information contained in this article is for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace or counter a physician’s advice or judgment. Please always consult your physician before taking any advice learned here or in any other educational medical material.