Spinal Cord Stimulators

Spinal Cord Stimulators


Stimulation of the spinal cord hides pain signals before they reach the brain. Similar to a pacemaker, a tiny device transmits electrical pulses to the spinal cord. It aids in the management of chronic pain and the reduction of opioid prescription use. If you suffer from persistent back, leg, or arm pain and have not found relief via other treatments, this is your solution. 

SCS device systems are classified into numerous categories. All, however, have three major components:

All about Spinal Cord Stimulator...

A spinal cord stimulator (SCS) is surgically implanted beneath your skin and delivers a moderate electric current to your spinal cord. Thin cables deliver current from a pulse generator to the spinal cord’s nerve fibers. When activated, the SCS stimulates the nerves in the location where you are experiencing pain. The electrical pulses change and conceal the pain signal, preventing it from reaching your brain.

Some SCS devices use a low-frequency current to replace the pain with a mild tingling feeling called paresthesia. Other SCS devices use high-frequency pulses or bursts of pulses to cover up pain without tingling. Most devices have a setting that can be used to stop paresthesia.

Stimulation does not remove the cause of the pain. It just alters the way the brain perceives it. As a result, the quantity of pain relief differs from person to person. SCS aims to reduce pain by 50 to 70%. However, even minor pain relief might be helpful if it allows you to do everyday activities and reduces the amount of pain medication you require. SCS does not strengthen the muscles.

Stimulation is not for everyone. While some may dislike the sensation, others may not have complete pain relief. Because of this, a trial stimulation allows you to try it out for a week. If the trial wires do not work for you, they can be withdrawn with no injury to the spinal cord or nerves.

Non-rechargeable battery systems must be surgically replaced every 2 to 5 years, depending on usage frequency. Rechargeable battery systems can last 8 to 10 years or more, but they must be charged on a daily basis. The pulse generator can be set up in different ways. Some SCS devices can tell when you’re sitting or lying down and adjust the level of stimulation to match your activity. Other systems have wires that can be programmed separately to cover more than one pain spot. Some send a pulse that is too small to be felt. Your doctor will choose the type of system that will work best for you.
A physical examination, medication schedule, and pain record will be used to establish whether your pain management goals are acceptable for SCS. All past treatments and operations will be reviewed by a neurosurgeon, physiatrist, or pain specialist. Because chronic pain can have emotional consequences, a psychologist will evaluate your situation to increase the likelihood of a successful conclusion.

SCS patients have typically suffered chronic debilitating pain in the lower back, leg (sciatica), or arm for more than 3 months. They have also frequently undergone one or more spinal operations.
  • Additional surgery would not benefit you.
  • Conservative treatment did not work
  • The pain is caused by a fixable problem that should be addressed.
  • You do not want more surgery due to the hazards or the lengthy recovery period. SCS is sometimes preferred over massive, complex spine surgery.
  • You do not have untreated depression or drug addiction; these should be addressed before undergoing SCS.
  • You do not have any medical issues that might prevent you from having implantation.
  • You completed a successful SCS trial.

SCS is more effective in the early stages of a chronic condition, before a cycle of pain-suffering-disability-pain develops.

  • Chronic leg or arm pain
  • Diabetic neuropathy
  • Failed back surgery syndrome
  • Complex regional pain syndrome
  • Arachnoiditis

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