Spinal cord stimulation is a safe, reversible, and effective option for pain that has not responded to more conservative options, that include pain medications, physical therapy, and steroid injections.
Lesions on the central or peripheral nervous system can lead to chronic neuropathic pain. Spinal cord stimulation has been shown to be effective in treating this sort of pain.
The treatment involves inserting a medical device near the spinal cord that sends out small electrical impulses into the epidural space in the spine. These impulses interrupt pain signals, keeping them from being sent to the brain. Many spinal cord stimulation devices come with a hand-held regulator that allows you to send the pain-blocking electrical signals only when needed.
In studies, 70% of participants report continued benefits from spinal cord stimulation one year after the device is implanted. Researchers estimate that over 14,000 of these devices are inserted every year to control chronic pain. People with spinal cord stimulators typically report that their pain levels are cut by 50% or more. This is often enough to reduce dependence on other types of pain relief, such as opioid medications.
Both transcutaneous and fully implanted spinal cord stimulators are available. Each of these have both benefits and drawbacks. Talk with your doctor about your options to choose the device that is best for you.