What’s a Spinal Cord Stimulator?
A form of Neuromodulation, A Spinal cord stimulator consists of thin, electrode-covered wires connected to a small battery pack such as the kind found in pacemakers. Spinal specialists recommend spinal cord stimulators to patients who suffer from long standing chronic back pain that has not responded to other, more conservative measures. During the operation, the surgeon inserts the small electrodes into the epidural space between the spinal cord and the vertebrae, and attaches a small generator. Before progressing, the surgeon wakes the patient up to test the stimulator in order to make sure Neuromodulation offers proper pain relief to the patient in question. If so, the patient goes under once more and the surgeon places the generator pack under the skin, usually near the buttocks or abdomen. Spinal cord stimulators allow patients in pain to manage their own electrical impulses using a remote control. Both the remote control and its antenna stay outside of the body. The electrodes emit a small electrical signal into the adjacent nerve endings in the spine, scrambling the pain signal from the brain and leaving only a light tingling, called paresthesia. For patients who find even this uncomfortable, newer devices offer “sub-perception” stimulation that patients may find less noticeable. Spinal cord stimulation, most often used after nonsurgical pain treatment options have failed to provide sufficient relief.
USES FOR SPINAL CORD STIMULATION
Spine Specialists use Neuromodulation and spinal cord stimulators to manage different types of chronic pain, including:
- Back pain
- Post-surgical pain
- Injuries to the spinal cord
- Nerve-related pain
- Complex regional pain syndrome
- Pain after an amputation
- Visceral abdominal pain and perineal pain
Who’s Eligible For a Spinal Cord Stimulator?
Your spinal specialist will want to confirm that a spinal cord stimulator work well for you, and that a SCS will likely provide significant relief from your chronic pain. In order To make a recommendation, your pain specialist will likely order diagnostic tests and psychological screening. Some insurance companies will require a psychological screening to rule out depression or anxiety as the cause of your pain.
generally, patients who benefit the most from spinal cord stimulation include those who:
- Have not successfully relieved their pain with medications, conservative therapies or other surgeries
- Do not have psychiatric disorders that would decrease the effectiveness of a spinal cord stimulator.