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How Does a Spinal Cord Stimulator Trial Work?

How Does a Spinal Cord Stimulator Trial Work?

There’s a lot to love about spinal cord stimulation (SCS). It can provide relief for the most complex pain conditions — even those that haven’t responded to other treatments. However, that doesn’t mean SCS works for everyone, which is why we make sure it’s right for you before implanting your permanent device. It all starts with a short spinal cord stimulator trial.

Our team uses the latest technologies to diagnose and treat all types of chronic pain at Glaser Pain Relief Center in Encino, California. Part of our process involves finding the root cause of your symptoms because there’s no one-size-fits-all solution to relieving pain. Reaching an accurate diagnosis plays an essential role in determining the most effective treatment strategy. 

Several conditions respond to SCS therapy, including:

However, having one of these conditions doesn’t guarantee that SCS is right for you. That’s why we always perform a trial stimulation period.

What you need to know about spinal cord stimulation

SCS differs from other forms of pain management because it doesn’t rely on medication. Instead, it uses mild pulses of electricity to interfere with the pain signals getting sent to your brain. This approach — called neuromodulation — alters the information your brain receives, which, in turn, changes the sensations you feel. 

There are several spinal cord stimulator models on the market, but they all rely on three primary components: a small generator (battery), electrodes (wires), and a remote control. 

When the device gets powered on, the battery sends mild currents of electricity along the electrodes into the nerves or nerve roots triggering your pain sensations. You can control the electrical current with the remote. SCS therapy’s aim is for you to feel mild fluttering sensations — or nothing at all — instead of pain. 

A spinal cord stimulator is an implanted device; the battery gets surgically placed underneath your skin. As a result, we want to be certain it will provide relief before performing the minimally invasive procedure required to insert it. That’s where an SCS trial comes in.

What to expect from a spinal cord stimulator trial

During your trial period, we insert temporary electrodes near the problem nerves, but we test the treatment while you’re wearing the battery outside of your body, either on a belt or taped to your back. The trial placement usually takes less than 30 minutes and is worn (test driven) for about 5 days.

We consider your trial period a success if your pain reduces by at least half. At that point, we can move forward with implanting your permanent electrodes and generator. However, if SCS wasn’t a good option, we can easily remove your temporary wires.

Are you wondering whether a spinal cord stimulator can help with your pain condition? Contact Glaser Pain Relief Center in the San Fernando Valley to schedule an appointment by calling 424-402-1240 or requesting a visit online today.

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