What is a spinal cord stimulator?
A spinal cord stimulator is a device Dr. Andrews implants under your skin if you have chronic back, arm, or leg pain that doesn’t respond to more conservative treatments.
The spinal cord stimulator (SCS) sends electrical pulses that interfere with your brain’s ability to receive pain signals from your nerves. Since it acts directly on the nerves, spinal cord stimulation is often highly effective for neuropathic pain and neuralgia, as well as functional back pain where there are no alternative treatments.
Dr. Andrews implants the spinal cord stimulator surgically, so before you go through with the procedure, you have a week-long trial to make sure that SCS gives you enough pain relief to make surgery worthwhile.
How does the trial implantation of a spinal cord stimulator work?
The trial implantation still requires a degree of surgery, just not as much as full implantation, so you need a local anesthetic to numb the area. When you’re ready, Dr. Andrews inserts a needle into the epidural space in your spine or makes a small incision through which he passes specially insulated wire leads.
At this stage, Dr. Andrews asks you to tell him when you feel the most pain relief so he can position the leads in the optimal place. The leads connect to a trial stimulator unit, which you control using a remote device. This allows you to increase or decrease the amount of pain relief as you need it.
After your trial week, you go back to Dr. Andrews to see if the SCS was effective enough for you to have a permanent implant.
How is the permanent spinal cord stimulator implanted?
For the full implantation, you are sedated or get a general anesthetic. Dr. Andrews positions the permanent leads in the epidural space, then makes a small cut in the skin on your abdomen or buttock in which he places the permanent implantable pulse generator (IPG) battery. The leads connect to the IPG implant, and Dr. Andrews sets up the programmer for you to use.
Following the permanent implant procedure for your spinal cord stimulator, you might have some swelling and soreness, but this is typically mild. Patients usually get used to having their implant very quickly.
To find about more about spinal cord stimulator technology and whether it’s right for you, call No Pain today or book an appointment online.