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If you have chronic back pain that hasn’t responded to other treatments, you might benefit from a spinal cord stimulator. The team at the University Pain Medicine Center in Murray Hill, New York City, and offices throughout New Jersey, provides spinal cord stimulators to relieve chronic back pain and restore your quality of life. Call the University Pain Medicine Center, or schedule a consultation online today, to learn more about this innovative treatment.
Spinal cord stimulation (also called SCS) uses electrical impulses to relieve chronic pain of the back, arms and legs. It is believed that electrical pulses prevent pain signals from being received by the brain. SCS candidates include people who suffer from neuropathic pain and for whom conservative treatments have failed.
The injection site is anesthetized. One or more insulated wire leads are inserted through an epidural needle or through a small incision into the space surrounding the spinal cord, called the epidural space. Electrodes at the end of the lead produce electrical pulses that stimulate the nerves, blocking pain signals. The patient gives feedback to help the physician determine where to place the stimulators to best block the patient's pain. The leads are connected to an external trial stimulator, which will be used for approximately one week to determine if SCS will help the patient.If the patient and the physician determine that the amount of pain relief is acceptable, the system may be permanently implanted. At the end of the trial implantation, the leads are removed. The permanent implantation may be performed while the patient is under sedation or general anesthesia. One or more permanent leads are inserted through an epidural needle or a small incision into the predetermined location in the epidural space. Then small incision is created, and the implantable pulse generator (IPG) battery is positioned beneath the skin, usually implanted in the buttocks or the abdomen. The leads are then connected to the IPG battery. The implant’s electrical pulses are programmed with an external wireless programmer. The patient can use the programmer to turn the system on, off, and adjust the stimulation power level and switch between different programs. After surgery, patients may experience mild discomfort and swelling at the incision sites for several days.
A spinal cord stimulator is an innovative, implantable device that delivers a mild electrical current to malfunctioning nerves in your spine. The current disrupts pain signals and can relieve chronic back, neck, arm, and leg pain.
A spinal cord stimulator can reduce your reliance on drugs and help you avoid surgery. However, spinal cord stimulation doesn’t address the root cause of your pain. It changes the way your brain perceives it.
A spinal cord stimulator isn’t a first-line treatment for pain. The team at the University Pain Medicine Center might recommend spinal cord stimulation to treat conditions like:
In most cases, the team tries other treatments before investigating spinal cord stimulation. Often, if nerve blocks or radiofrequency ablation have provided temporary relief, spinal cord stimulation can deliver the lasting results you need to regain your quality of life.
If your doctor thinks that spinal cord stimulation is right for you, they schedule your placement procedure. The team at the University Pain Medicine Center implants spinal cord stimulators in two stages: a trial phase and permanent implantation.
Before permanent implantation, you have a two-week trial period to ensure that spinal cord stimulation relieves your pain and for your doctor to fine-tune the electrical current. During the trial implantation, your doctor prepares your back and provides a local anesthetic. Then, using fluoroscopy, they guide a hollow needle into your spine, close to the malfunctioning nerve.
When the needle is in place, they insert a wire electrode into the epidural space of your spine, positioning it over the damaged nerves. Your doctor attaches the wires to a generator and tapes the generator to your back. Alternatively, you can wear it in a pouch around your waist.
You go home with instructions on how to clean and care for the electrode site and to track your symptoms.
If your trial is successful, your doctor schedules permanent implantation. The procedure is similar to the trial implantation. Instead of having the electrode come out of your body, your doctor places the generator under the skin of your lower back or upper buttocks and creates a tunnel between your spine and the generator for the wire.
If you have chronic pain that hasn’t responded to other treatments, call the University Pain Medicine Center, or make an appointment online, to find out how a spinal cord stimulator can provide permanent pain relief.