Spinal cord stimulation is a procedure used to relieve chronic pain in cases where there is no identifiable cause and/or other non-surgical treatments have not been effective. It consists of an implanted generator that creates and sends electrical signals into the spinal cord through two thin wires. The generator is generally implanted into the buttocks or abdomen, while the thin wires with electrodes are placed in the epidural space between the spinal cord and vertebrae. The patient can then use a remote control to send electrical impulses when they are in pain. These electrical impulses block pain signals and instead cause light tingling.
Did You Know?
Conditions associated with chronic pain cause nerve signals to be constantly transmitted to the brain, regardless of whether there is an injury present. Spinal cord stimulation interrupts these constant signals so that the brain cannot create the feeling of pain.
Frequently Asked Questions:
Am I a candidate for spinal cord stimulation?
You may be a candidate for spinal cord stimulation if you experience the following types of chronic pain:
- Back pain (especially for failed back surgery syndrome)
- Spinal cord injuries
- Amputation pain
- Complex regional pain syndrome
- Nerve-related pain
- Peripheral vascular disease
Ideal candidates for spinal cord stimulation are individuals who have not experienced sufficient pain relief with medications or other less-invasive treatments. To determine if you are an ideal candidate for spinal cord stimulation, schedule a consultation with Dr. Greg Condie of Aspen Orthopedic Pain and Spine today.
What can I expect when having spinal cord stimulation at Aspen Orthopedic Pain and Spine?
At Aspen Orthopedic Pain and Spine, spinal cord stimulation is first offered as a trial to make sure the device is effective before being implanted. During this trial period, you will wear the generator outside the body with the two wires placed in the epidural space. Spinal cord stimulation trials generally last about a week and the patient must experience a 50% reduction in pain for it to be considered successful.
When the trial period is considered successful, then the generator will be surgically implanted into the buttocks or abdomen. After the device has been placed, Dr. Condie will explain how to use and calibrate your spinal cord stimulation device to deliver varying levels of electrical signals. In most cases, the procedure takes about 1-2 hours to complete.
What can I expect after having a spinal cord stimulator placed?
After having a spinal cord stimulator placed, you will remain in the recovery room until the anesthesia wears off. You will then be discharged to recover at home, however you will need to refrain from vigorous activities for 2 weeks. There will be stitches over the incision site and it is normal to experience some discomfort in this area for the first few days following your procedure. During this time it is important to avoid activities that could pull out your stitches, such as twisting, stretching, or reaching. Your stitches will usually be removed about 3 days after the procedure, and your incision should heal within 2-4 weeks.