According to the American Chiropractic Association, up to 80% of people will experience back pain at some time in their lives. It may be as simple as a mild ache that goes away after a day or two, or it could be more severe and require treatment.
For patients with chronic back pain that has not responded to more conservative treatments including pain medications, physical therapy and steroid injections, spinal cord stimulation provided by a qualified, board-certified pain management physician may be the answer to alleviating the pain.
What Is a Spinal Cord Stimulator?
A spinal cord stimulator is an electronic device that consists of thin wires (the electrodes) and a small, pacemaker-like battery pack (the generator). The device sends low levels of electricity directly into the spinal cord to block pain signals and keep them from being sent to the brain.
Treatment involves implanting the electrodes between the spinal cord and vertebrae. The generator is placed under the skin, and the patient uses a remote control to send electrical impulses when they feel pain.
Conditions Related to Spinal Cord Stimulation
A number of chronic back conditions can be treated effectively with spinal cord stimulation. These conditions include:
- Failed back surgery
- Spinal stenosis
- Arachnoiditis (painful scarring of the protective layer of the spine)
- Complex regional pain syndrome
- Peripheral neuropathy
- Refractory angina
Ideal candidates for the spinal cord stimulator have localized pain. The device has also been used for three decades to treat leg and arm pain that is caused by damaged nerves.
If you are deemed a good candidate for a spinal cord stimulator, your pain physician will conduct a minor surgical procedure that takes about an hour. You’ll be given a local anesthetic. Using x-ray guidance, your doctor will make two small incisions to place the device’s electrodes and the pulse generator near the location where pain is coming from. Your physician will work with you during the procedure to ensure that electrodes are in the right spot to provide you with relief from pain.
Following the procedure, most patients are able to go home as soon as the anesthesia has worn off. In most cases, the patient can return to work and drive again within one to two weeks following surgery, and the incisions will heal within about two to four weeks.
While every patient is different, people who benefit the most from spinal cord stimulation are those who have not experienced sufficient pain relief with medications, less invasive therapies or prior surgeries.
This procedure is safe, reversible and effective. Patients can even “test drive” the spinal cord stimulator for a short time to make sure that it will be effective.
Clearway Pain Solutions
Clearway Pain physicians can help relieve chronic back pain that has not responded to prior treatment. To find out if a spinal cord stimulator might be right for you, call us at 850-484-4080 to schedule a consultation now or visit us at ClearwayPain.com.