A Spinal cord stimulator is a device used to stimulate spinal nerves and your spinal cord by sending small electrical waves through the spine with a tiny wire that is placed outside the spinal cord.
Do you need Spinal Cord Stimulation?
This treatment has shown to be very effective for patients who have been suffering from chronic pain in their lower back and limbs. Patients who are dealing with neuropathic pain have had the most success with this treatment. Neuropathic pain is caused by injury to your nervous system. It can feel like a burning or shocking sensation.
In particular, this type of injury/pain is associated with:
- Pain in your leg or back after surgery
- Shingles virus
- Sciatic nerve pain
- Pain in your neck or arm after having cervical spine surgery
- Diabetic nerve pain
- Complex regional pain syndrome (reflex sympathetic dystrophy syndrome)
Spinal Cord Stimulation procedure
Typically, the spinal cord stimulator is implanted into your back. The first step is to do a trial process, where we insert only 1 or 2 thin, soft leads into the epidural space along the spine. After we have placed the leads into position, we connect them to an external generator. This takes approximately 30-45 minutes. The stimulator will create small pulses that are designed to generate a more pleasing feeling than the pain you would usually feel in that area when moving around normally.
During the trial period, you will have control over the strength of the stimulation, as well as the ability to turn it off. The trial period lasts for about 3-5 days, which gives you time to see how effective the device is for you and how well it relieves your pain. If the device decreases your pain and you feel comfortable with it, you can decide to move forward with the procedure to permanently install the device.
How long do Spinal Cord Stimulators last?
Spinal cord stimulation is a long term solution. The device has been shown to dramatically decrease the amount of pain patients experience performing tasks that used to cause them excruciating pain. Even though it is called a permanent solution, it is reversible. The effectiveness can vary from patient to patient. The trial period is the best way to gauge how effective the treatment will be for you.