Spinal Cord Stimulation (SCS) is a breakthrough development in chronic pain management and has been around for over forty years.
SCS is an alternative therapy for chronic pain in the back and limbs that have been resistant to standard treatment plans. It does not solve the root cause of the pain but uses electrical pulses via a stimulator to reset pain signals. These low-level pulses to the spinal cord or specific nerves prevent the brain from receiving pain signals, stopping you from feeling pain in that moment.
Who Can Get Spinal Cord Stimulators?
Your physician will recommend spinal cord stimulators if they are a good fit for you and can provide relief. Your pain condition and underlying conditions will determine if they are the best treatment course for your chronic pain.
The best candidates for spinal cord stimulators are people who have had no significant improvement in pain despite surgeries and non-surgical treatments. People who have psychiatric conditions may not benefit from these stimulators as depression and anxiety may be the cause of the worsening or non-improvement of pain.
Spinal cord stimulators are helpful for conditions such as
- Postoperative pain
- Spinal cord injuries
- Cancer pain
- Diabetic neuropathy
- Post-amputation pain
- Chronic back pain even after surgery
- Peripheral vascular disease etc
Getting a Spinal Cord Stimulator
Here are some key things to note if you are considering getting a spinal cord stimulator
- You will need surgery to get the spinal cord stimulator. The procedure is usually minimally invasive.
- Spinal cord stimulators consist of electrodes and a battery pack to generate power. The electrodes are placed in the spinal area between the spinal cord and vertebrae while the generator is surgically inserted beneath the skin.
- These stimulators have an external remote control and mechanism that will allow you to send these pain-inhibiting electrical pulses whenever you feel pain.
- When using the earlier iterations of these stimulators, you would usually feel a tingling sensation instead of pain, but the new and improved ones do not tingle. You will feel nothing when using them.
- Getting a spinal cord stimulator is a two-step process involving a test trial and the actual implantation. For the trial, the surgeon will determine where best to insert the test device, depending on the location of your pain. Also, only the electrodes are inserted. After this part of the procedure, you will have one week to see how helpful the device is to your pain.
- If your pain reduces to a reasonable extent during this timeframe (by at least 50%), the trial is deemed successful, and the device is permanently implanted.
Living with Your Spinal Cord Stimulator
Your pain specialist will guide you on your post-surgical recovery and how to operate the device. You will be required to limit movement, which could affect the incisions. After a go-ahead from your doctor, you can then go about everyday activities and work. However, there are specific restrictions, such as having the stimulator off while driving. You can discuss risks and any other concerns you may have about daily living with your pain specialist.
Lakeshore Pain And Spine Center provides a wide range of pain management treatment options including for people who suffer chronic pain. Our treatment plans are holistic and comprehensive and our aim is to ensure you have a fuller and better life.