Whether you're experiencing pain after back surgery or you've been dealing with pain for years and have struggled to find a solution, you may benefit from a minimally invasive procedure called spinal cord stimulation. This spinal cord stimulation overview explains what the treatment is, how it works, and why it may be an answer to your chronic pain.
A spinal cord stimulator (SCS) is a small medical device, similar to a pacemaker, that uses electrical impulses to mask pain signals before reaching the brain. Below are a few SCS highlights.
Medical Insight Spinal cord stimulation (SCS) results in meaningful pain relief for 50-70% percent of well-selected patients and has minor rates of complication (1) .
Spinal cord stimulation is best for patients who suffer from: Chronic pain after back surgery termed "failed back surgery syndrome." Chronic pain after surgery is defined as pain that has not resolved 6 months after surgery.
Other conditions that can be successfully treated with spinal cord stimulation are: Arachnoiditis Chronic Sciatica or Arm Pain Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS) Failed Back Surgery Syndrome (FBSS) Multiple Sclerosis
Medical Insight Roughly 20% of patients will have persistent pain after back surgery. (2)
If you have have chronic back pain that has failed multiple therapies or have persistent back pain after spine surgery (failed back surgery syndrome), discuss spinal cord stimulation with your interventional pain doctor. An interventional pain doctor specializes in using non surgical, minimally invasive procedures to reduce pain. If you are unsure if you're a candidate for spinal cord stimulation you should speak with an interventional pain doctor (psst that's what we are at Beam!).
Before a permanent spinal cord stimulator is inserted, a trial is performed to ensure adequate pain relief. At our surgery center, temporary leads are placed into the back (image 1). Unlike the long-term implant, the temporary leads have an external stimulator device that can be easily disconnected (image 2). Over the next 3 to 7 days you will be able to see if the SCS works for managing your pain.
What defines SCS trial success? Your pain is reduced by at least 50%. You're able to return to activities that matter to you. Your need for pain medication is reduced. You're able to relax and sleep better.
If the trial run is successful, a minimally invasive procedure is performed to place a permanent stimulator. During the procedure, the lead wires along the back of the vertebrae are then connected to a pulse generator positioned just below the skin near the waistline (image). Most patients leave the day-of or the morning after their procedure.
The spinal cord stimulator is programmed before leaving the surgery center. Approximately 10 days after the procedure, the incision is checked to ensure adequate wound healing. Fine tuning of the device also occurs to ensure maximum pain relief.
If you think you may be a candidate for a spinal cord stimulator or you're just interested in learning more, you can receive a free online medical consultation with a Helped patient coordinator today. Your coordinator will assess if you're a candidate, and if so, will help you get connected with the best pain doctors near you.