Spinal cord stimulation is a therapy that masks pain signals before they reach the brain. A small device, similar to a pacemaker, is implanted in the body to deliver electrical pulses to the spinal cord. It helps patients better manage their chronic pain symptoms and decrease the use of opioid medications. It may be an option if you suffer from chronic back, leg, or arm pain and have not found relief with other therapies. If you’re experiencing chronic pain Santa Monica‘s Source Healthcare has a solution for you.
Spinal Cord Stimulator
Don't Suffer from Chronic Pain Any Longer
History & Uses
Spinal cord stimulation was first used for pain treatment in 1967. Since then, advancements have made it possible to tailor the therapy to patients’ individual needs. Annually, thousands of patients receive therapy to manage their pain effectively and improve their quality of life.
It is mainly used to resolve pain caused by nerve damage from injury, disease, or accident. The therapy is also increasingly being used by patients who experience new or persistent pain after undergoing spinal surgery for back pain.
Our spinal cord stimulator in Los Angeles is effective in treating complex regional pain syndrome, a chronic condition affecting one limb following an injury. It is also used to address peripheral neuropathic pain resulting from damage to the nerves outside the brain and spinal cord, from diabetes, viral infection, or trauma.
What Does this Therapy Involve?
A spinal cord stimulator (SCS) device is surgically placed under your skin and sends a mild electric current to your spinal cord. A small wire carries the current from a pulse generator to the nerve fibers of the spinal cord. When turned on, the SCS stimulates the nerves in the area where your pain is felt. Pain is reduced because the electrical pulses modify and mask the pain signal from reaching your brain.
Stimulation does not eliminate the source of pain, it simply interferes with the signal to the brain, and so the amount of pain relief varies for each person. Also, some patients find the tingling sensation unpleasant. For these reasons a trial stimulation is performed before the device is permanently implanted. The goal of spinal cord stimulation is a 50 to 70% reduction in pain. However, even a small amount of pain reduction can be significant if it helps you to perform your daily activities with less pain and reduces the amount of pain medication you take. Stimulation does not work for everyone. If unsuccessful, the implant can be removed and does not damage the spinal cord or nerves. SCS does not improve muscle strength.
Some SCS devices use a low-frequency current to replace the pain sensation with a mild tingling feeling called paresthesia. Other SCS devices use high-frequency or burst pulses to mask the pain with no tingling feeling. A paresthesia-free setting is an option on most devices.
What to Expect After the Therapy
Spinal cord stimulation is an outpatient procedure. After surgery, you may feel a slight discomfort in the incision sites, which may last three to seven days. Your doctor will administer local anesthesia in the area near the implant site for pain relief. They will also prescribe pain medication and ask you to apply an ice compress to the area to keep the pain and swelling down.
- Rest for a few days after the procedure to promote safe healing. Gentle walks are fine; avoid intense activity and lifting heavy objects.
- Keep incision sites clean and dry. Do not bathe for three days after the procedure. You can have a sponge bath. Your doctor will tell you when you can start showering again.
You will have a follow-up appointment two weeks after receiving the implant. Your doctor will check the incision site for infection and understand how well the stimulator is working for you. After you’ve healed completely and find pain relief, you can resume your normal activities.
What is the Success Rate of
Spinal Cord Stimulation?
Stimulation does not work for everyone. Some patients may find the sensation unpleasant. In other cases, it may not cover the entire pain area. For these reasons a trial stimulation is performed before the device is permanently implanted. If unsuccessful, the trial wires can be removed, leaving no damage to the spinal cord or nerves.
There are several types of SCS device systems. However, all have three main parts:
- A pulse generator with a battery that creates the electrical pulses.
- A lead wire with several electrodes (8-32) that delivers electrical pulses to the spinal cord.
- A hand-held remote control that turns the device on and off and adjusts the settings.
Systems with a non-rechargeable battery need to be surgically replaced every 2 to 5 years, depending on the frequency of use. Rechargeable battery systems may last 8 to 10 years or longer, but the patient must charge the system daily.
The pulse generator has programmable settings. Some SCS devices can sense a change in body position (sitting vs. lying down) and adapt the stimulation level to your activity. Other systems have leads that can be independently programmed to cover multiple pain areas. Some send a sub-perception pulse with no tingling. Your doctor will select the best type of system for you.
What Are the Complications of Spinal Cord Stimulation?
Complications from SCS include hardware failure, infection, additional revision, stimulator removal, and biological complications such as pain, allergic reaction to the device, dural puncture, and skin erosion.
Sophisticated neuromodulation devices and proper expertise can keep complications to a minimum. The therapy has shown good to excellent results for different clinical situations of chronic pain Santa Monica patients are getting help to manage.
Individualized Treatment for Chronic Pain
If your pain has lasted more than a year, you should consider our spinal cord stimulator in Los Angeles. A multi-disciplinary approach from experienced specialists can resolve long-term pain and reduce dependency on medication.