A spinal cord stimulator is a device implanted at the lower portion of the back and is quite similar to a pacemaker. This device is surgically implanted under the skin, usually under the abdomen or the upper buttocks.
A spinal cord stimulator delivers mild electrical impulses to an area around the spinal cord. The electrical impulses travel from the device through your spine via thin insulated medical wires called leads. Neurostimulation outsmarts your pain as the signals change the way your brain perceives pain signals.
Spinal cord stimulation has been used to treat chronic pain in the back, head and neck. Conditions that are treated with this device are:
Spinal cord stimulator helps ease the pain caused by surgery. A spinal cord stimulator is used to treat chronic pain successfully over 75% of the time, but it is important to understand that this treatment modality does not eliminate the source of pain or treat the underlying cause of pain.
Instead, the spinal cord stimulator exerts its therapeutic effect by interfering with the pain transmission in the brain. It masks the pain very well.
Prior to receiving a permanent spinal cord stimulator, patients must undergo a trial SCS implant and then a psychological evaluation.
A visit to the doctor will result in a physical exam. If the doctor decides a test block is necessary, the patient may be sedated before having the procedure. The procedure itself takes about twenty to twenty-five minutes to perform.
There may still be some pain after initial treatment. If the procedure is successful, pain should dissipate within six to eight weeks. A new appointment will be scheduled and you and your doctor can discuss any further treatments or options, or what you can expect long-term.
There are some possible side effects and adverse reactions to a sphenopalatine block. Bleeding can occur if the needle hits any small blood vessels in the treatment area. In rare cases, fever and meningitis can occur.
A spinal cord stimulator is placed surgically, during a laminotomy procedure that removes a bit of bone just enough to place the “paddle” lead. The electrode wires and paddle are steered and controlled to focus to a single region. It specifically blocks pain signals that come from the neck, back, legs and even from the head.
The brain does not perceive these altered signals as pain and perceives them as a pleasant tingling sensation instead. The procedure takes about an hour, with the vast majority of patients going home the same day. Once the soft tissues heal up, the SCS will be programmed to provide optimal pain relief. Most models have over 200 programming options.
Placing the surgical device under the skin during surgery carries some risks, such as infection or bleeding. The leads may break or migrate, which may necessitate the need for a revision. Another risk is that the implant may stop working well over time.
Spinal Cord Stimulator provides relief to chronic pain that is not amenable to a surgical procedure. Benefits include relief of numbness and burning sensation. Sharp shooting pain is also relieved, as well as the stinging sensation associated with it.
If a person’s pain cannot be helped with surgery, the second best option is to mask it. That’s what an SCS implant does.
Bernstein, C. (2006, July 27). Spinal Cord Stimulation for Chronic Pain. Retrieved October 1, 2014, from http://www.spine-health.com/treatment/back-surgery/spinal-cord-stimulation-chronic-pain
Meds, C.(2012, June 17). Retrieved October 1, 2014, from https://professional.medtronic.com/pt/neuro/scs/ind/index.htm#.VCwr_PldXaV