Spinal Cord Stimulation
If you are a patient living with chronic back pain, spinal cord stimulation is worth discussing with your spinal surgeon before resorting to spinal cord surgery. While spinal cord stimulation may not be the right choice for every person, it has greatly improved pain symptoms for many chronic back pain patients.
Spinal cord stimulation is a minimally invasive method of chronic back pain treatment involving electrical stimulation of the spinal nerves. During a spinal cord stimulation treatment, an electronic pulse generator sends pulses to the nerve sites in a way that interferes with and blocks pain signal so that the patient’s pain is reduced or eliminated.
A Trial Run
One of the major advantages of spinal cord stimulation is that the process lends itself to a simple trial run of the procedure to determine whether a larger-scale spinal cord stimulation should be the next step.
For a trial run, an electrode can be temporarily inserted through a tiny incision in a patient’s skin and connected to a control stimulator device outside of the patient’s body, which the patient can operate.
If the patient responds well to the temporary spinal cord stimulation, the patient’s spinal doctor can insert a more permanent electrode stimulator deeper within their body. The implantation of the permanent stimulator takes place in an outpatient setting with local anesthesia and sedation.
Next, the doctor attaches safe, coated wires called “leads” running from the stimulator to the nerve endings or spinal canal, depending on where the patient’s pain is located.
Another advantage of spinal cord stimulation is that the patient – in consultation with his or her spinal cord physician – can select the pulse beat strength and rate that is best for them and can adjust that selection as needed. This can continue to be controlled and adjust after the implant has been placed.
The patient’s doctor can also help determine how often treatments should take place, and how long each treatment session should last. Most patients report improvement in chronic back pain with a regimen of three or four treatments per day, lasting one or two hours each time.
Because the implant and external control device is portable, many patients report that they can undergo treatments at work, while sitting at a desk, or in the comfort of their own home. Spinal cord stimulation allows patients to receive life-changing treatment without significantly impairing their mobility or ability to go about regular daily activities.
Consult an Experienced Doctor
Spinal cord stimulation is a simple procedure with few risks that can provide ample pain relief for chronic back pain. No matter where you are in your journey for relief from your back pain, your experienced spinal surgeon can review your entire medical history as well as your records and help you make the best decision about whether spinal cord stimulation is right for you.