Am I a Candidate for Spinal Cord Stimulation?
Spinal cord stimulation (SCS) is a way to help control chronic pain through the use of an implantable medical device. The device, which is similar to a pacemaker, delivers electrical impulses that interfere with the transmission of pain signals.
What Is Spinal Cord Stimulation?
Spinal cord stimulation uses a medical device similar to a pacemaker, which is placed beside the spinal cord to deliver mild electrical impulses to the spinal cord before pain signals arrive. Instead of pain, patients feel a tingling sensation from the neurostimulation in areas where the pain is felt.
Conditions Treated by Spinal Cord Stimulation
SCS can benefit patients who have chronic pain of the neck, back, arms and legs occurring as a result of spinal surgery. Some of the conditions treated with SCS include:
- failed back surgery syndrome
- post-laminectomy pain
- peripheral neuropathy
- complex regional pain syndrome (also known as reflex sympathetic dystrophy).
Is Spinal Cord Stimulation for Me?
Chronic pain treatment varies based on your type of pain, severity, and how you respond to pain treatment.
You might benefit from SCS if:
- Other treatment options have failed to adequately provide pain relief
- Your doctor understands what is causing your chronic pain
- Further traditional surgeries are not recommended
- You don’t have a serious, untreated dependence on pain medication
- You have passed a psychological evaluation
- You don’t have medical issues that would make surgery difficult
- You have had a successful neurostimulation screening test
What to Expect During the Procedure?
SCS is done in two phases. A “trial” phase is done first to see if we can implant the electrode and if you are getting pain relief. You are normally discharged within 24 hours but this trial electrode stays in place for five to seven days. If there is pain relief, apermanent implant is done which requires a surgical procedure and overnight stay at the hospital.
It is important to know that SCS may reduce but will not cure your pain. You may feel a tingling instead of the pain, and it may improve your ability to function.
What Are the Risks Associated with This Procedure?
No surgery is without risks. The risks with SCS include possible bleeding, stroke, paralysis, infection, device-related problems, and the risks with anesthesia. In our program, we are very thorough in providing you and your family with detailed information about potential risks and benefits so that you can make a clear and informed decision about surgery.
When considering SCS, it is important to have realistic expectations as to what symptoms may or may not improve. Additionally, a family and support structure needs to be in place to help you with follow-up care and appointments.
Your physician and other care providers may be able to help determine if you may benefit from a referral to our Center for Neuromodulation. If you would like to learn if you are a candidate for SCS, please contact your current healthcare provider for an initial evaluation. Learn more about the steps to being a candidate for SCS.
If you need further assistance or would like to learn more about spinal cord stimulation, please contact the Center for Neuromodulation patient coordinator at 855-255-0550.