10 Nov An Overview of Spinal Cord Stimulation
At Integrated Pain Consultants, we consider all avenues for back pain relief, and spinal cord stimulation is one option that’s been growing in popularity. Some patients shy away from therapies with “spinal cord” in the name, but it’s actually a very safe solution to a variety of complaints. It’s a therapy designed to hide the pain signals sent from your back before they reach your brain. All that’s used is a little device, about the size of a pacemaker, which is implanted in the body to regularly send electrical pulses to the spinal cord.
Spinal cord stimulation helps put patients back in control of their pain management. No drugs are used, making it a relatively natural solution. For some patients, spinal cord stimulation is the solution that weaned them off of opioids and other potentially addictive substances. It can also be used for leg and arm pain. However, due to the somewhat invasive nature of the procedures, it’s one of a handful of last resorts after trying other therapies.
A Stimulating Experience
The spinal cord stimulator (SCS) is placed beneath the skin during a surgery. Once in place, a wire will send the current via a pulse generator directly to nerve fibers in the spinal cord. When it’s turned on (you can turn it off, too), the SCS will stimulate the nerves where you have pain. The pain is then reduced thanks to the electrical pulses.
Technically, the pain will still be there—you just won’t be able to feel it as much. Spinal Cord Stimulation doesn’t “fix” the problem, but it does offer a pain management solution. It’s also a popular option for those who aren’t comfortable with drug therapies or who are struggling with addiction tendencies to opioids.
Keep in Mind for Your Spine
For the majority of patients, the therapy helps relieve pain. However, a small percentage think the tingling is “unpleasant.” That’s why your doctor will require a trial simulation before an implant. The goal? Stimulate the spine to result in 50-70% pain reduction. Some patients are grateful for any amount of pain reduction, especially if it allows them to enjoy activities of daily living. Removing the implant can happen at any time, and doesn’t damage the body.
Spinal Cord Stimulation devices vary with some using a low-frequency while other use a high-frequency. All Spinal Cord Stimulation devices include a pulse generator and battery, a lead wire with electrodes to deliver pulses to the spine, and a remote control for the patient to manage the device. Re-chargeable batteries are best for many, to avoid a surgical battery swap in 2 – 5 years. Bear in mind that Spinal Cord Stimulation isn’t for everyone, and it doesn’t work for everyone.
The best candidates are those who haven’ t had success with other therapies, who aren’t candidates for additional surgery, and who have been cleared for surgery. Those with sciatica, failed back surgery symptom, regional pain syndrome, angina, and spinal cord injuries are often the best-suited candidates for spinal cord stimulation. Interested in learning more? Call 480-626-2552 and schedule an appointment with Integrated Pain Consultants today. We also invite you to learn more about Dr. Nikesh Seth and other providers including Dr. Anne-Marie Cosijns, Dr. Lisa Sparks, Dr. Michael Givens, and our team of Nurse Practitioners.