WHAT IS SPINAL CORD STIMULATION?
Spinal cord stimulation is a minimally invasive treatment that uses electric pulses, delivered through wire leads, that dull the signals of pain received by the brain. A spinal cord stimulator is a pacemaker for pain. Unlike major surgery spinal cord stimulation can be trialed or test driven with no sutures and no incisions to see if this therapy is right for a patient before the pacemaker is implanted. If you suffer from back pain, sciatica, peripheral neuropathy, CRPS or have back surgery that has failed to relieve your pain a spinal cord stimulator trial may be right for you.
AM I A CANDIDATE FOR SPINAL CORD STIMULATION:
Did you know spine surgery is rarely “needed”. Unless you have a tumor, trauma, neurological dysfunction, severe functional abnormality (i.e. scoliosis) or an infection spine surgery is likely not “needed”, but is rather elective with the hope that you will obtain relief of your pain. Spine surgery often involves disrupting the internal biomechanical structure of your spine including removing bone and perhaps implanting hardware such as screws. Statistically, patients who undergo major spine surgery often do not obtain the amount of pain relief they hoped for. If the goal is alleviating back pain, sciatica, painful peripheral neuropathy or treating pain associated with CRPS and there are no true indications for major spine surgery spinal cord stimulation may be right for you. Many patients who have had one or more spine surgeries that have not provided pain relief benefit with pain relief from spinal cord stimulation. Unlike major spine surgery spinal cord stimulator surgery is a brief one hour procedure performed as an outpatient with a much shorter recovery time than more invasive spine surgery (i.e. laminectomy, fusion).
HOW DOES SPINAL CORD STIMULATION WORK?
Spinal cord stimulation works by intercepting and modulating (changing) pain signals being sent to the brain at the level of the spinal cord. Very precise and individually programmed signals are transmitted through tiny wires in the epidural space to catch the pain signal before it reaches the brain and greatly minimize the sensation of pain.
SPINAL CORD STIMULATOR TRIAL AND IMPLANTATION
Spinal cord stimulation is unique in that a patient can test drive this therapy to see if it is right for them before getting the implant. A spinal cord stimulator trial is a procedure done in the operating room under sedation where two tiny wires are temporarily placed in the epidural space worn for a few days to see if a patient benefits with pain relief from the therapy. If the trial is successful – gauged based on amount of pain relief obtained – a minimally invasive surgery will be planned for a future date where the wires and a small pacemaker will be implanted through two tiny incisions.