Spinal Cord Stimulation

Chronic pain can effect your life in many different ways. If you suffer from chronic pain, you know how difficult even simple tasks can be. For many people, a spinal cord stimulator is the answer they are looking for. 

Here's what you should know about a spinal cord stimulator and the trial and implant procedure, and how it can help those suffering from chronic pain. 

What is Spinal Cord Stimulation?

A Spinal Cord Stimulation (SCS) device is a state-of-the-art implanted device that delivers mild electrical pulses to the nerves to interrupt the transmission of pain signals to the brain, thus reducing pain. 

SCS a is a well-established approach to managing chronic pain used globally for over 30 years and is used to treat chronic pain that isn't relieved through conventional treatments such as medications or injections. 

Some of the pain conditions commonly managed by SCS include:

  • Failed back surgery syndrome

  • Complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS)

  • Peripheral neuropathy

  • Cervical and lumbar radiculitis

  • Spinal stenosis

  • Nerve root compression

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SCS technology has especially developed over the past 5 years with smaller devices, expanded MRI compatibility, and new therapies that have expanded the number of people who would consider SCS therapy.

How does a spinal cord stimulator work? 

Spinal Cord Stimulation is a two-stage procedure, and the first stage is called the trial and is probably the most important as this stage determines how well the device will work for you. The trial involves placing two small wires near the spine which are connected to a small external battery that will go on the patient's back. The trial typically lasts about a week and during this period the patient is able to test the system to see how well the system works to provide relief. 

If the trial successfully relieves the patient's pain, the patient will have a permanent battery implanted.

What is the trial procedure like?

The trial procedure is performed in the clinic and is similar to having an epidural steroid injection. The major difference between an epidural injection and spinal cord stimulation trial procedure and an epidural injection is that instead of injecting medications into the epidural space of your spine, a small wire is inserted instead. 

Once the leads are placed in the epidural space, they are connected to the trial device which is placed in a pouch and secured onto the patient's back. 

The patient typically will not feel the SCS therapy, however this therapy will work in the background to calm the chronic pain signals traveling to the brain resulting in significant pain relief. 

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What is the implant procedure like?

During a quick and minimally invasive procedure, a small device is implanted under the skin, just above the beltline or in the buttocks area. It's connected to thin, flexible wires, just like those used in the trial, that are placed near the spine.

The implant procedure is an outpatient procedure, meaning you will be able to go home the same day. The team at the Interventional Pain clinic will provide directions for how to recover from the procedure and to ensure that your body heals correctly. 

You will also be working with a care team specific to your device who are comprised of local representatives, as well as optimization specialists and support specialists who will regularly reach out to help you get the best possible relief with your device. 

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