Spinal cord stimulation is a revolutionary treatment that is changing the way the world deals with pain. Spinal cord stimulation involves a surgically implanted device that sends electrical pulses to the spinal cord which block the message of pain to the brain.
What Conditions Can Be Treated?
This procedure is meant for patients with severe pain. Candidates include patients who have undergone laminectomies and spinal fusions but still suffer from pain. This procedure is also ideal for amputees suffering from phantom limb syndrome. With this syndrome, the nervous system attempts to rationalize the loss of the limb by providing the sensation that the limb is present but in extreme pain. Patients suffering from chronic neuropathy (unexplained pain in the nerves) also do well with this procedure.
How Do I Know It Will Work for Me?
Before the stimulator is inserted, a trial will be conducted by your anesthesiologist. The device can be externally attached with the insertion of a small wire through the skin in the back. The wire is connected to the external control device and worn for several days to test its effectiveness. Patient results can then be evaluated by their doctors for benefits and side effects before the final decision to go forward with insertion is made.
How Effective Is It At Reducing Pain?
Patients often experience an immediate reduction of pain by at least 50% in the first weeks of therapy. Many patients are able to eliminate or significantly limit their use of pain medications once the stimulator is in place. In addition to reducing pain, patients find that they are able to return to most of the regular activities and lifestyles that were previously being prevented due to the severity of their pain.
Are There Any Risks or Disadvantages?
Spinal cord stimulation only works for about 60% of patients that test the device. Also, the stimulator does not treat the cause of the pain; instead it is blocking the nervous system’s acknowledgement of the pain. Depending on the source of the pain, some patients may develop other associated symptoms.
The insertion of the stimulator requires a minor surgery with a small incision either in the lower back or the abdomen. The procedure is normally a same day procedure making it a convenient experience for patients. Patients should understand that there are risks for post-operative bleeding, pain, and infection, as there would be after any surgical procedure.
The Best in Quality Care
Spinal cord stimulation has the ability to give patients with severe chronic pain a second chance at life. Even though this treatment is not yet effective for some patients, it is providing amazing results for those who do respond to it. As technology continues to advance, and more research concerning the effects of artificial electrical impulse on the nervous system is fully evaluated, this treatment will be able to help all patients with chronic pain. Commonwealth Pain Specialists will continue to stay on the cutting edge and offer our patients the best in advanced quality care.