A popular treatment for people suffering from neck or back pain and who have not found relief via surgery or other treatments is spinal cord stimulation. Thousands of patients have benefitted from spinal cord stimulation across the world. Spinal cord stimulation (SCS) delivers electrical stimulation to the nerves in order to block nerve activity to reduce the pain sensations from reaching the brain.
Initially used in 1967 as a method to relieve pain, spinal cord stimulation was approved in 1989 by the FDA for relieving pain caused by nerve damage in the legs, arms and trunks. It now accounts for roughly 90% of all neuromodulation methods of treatment. The figure is likely to grow with time as the stimulation technique is used for treating other diseases.
What It Is
The method is also referred to as neurostimulation, where mild pulses that obstruct pain messages are sent to the brain. A little device is placed near the spine and works in the same manner as a cardiac peacemaker. This is why the generator is sometimes called a ‘pain pacemaker’. Although it has been used for decades, recent developments have led to a growing interest in spinal cord stimulation. They are prescribed for several conditions, such as neuropathy and failed back surgery syndrome.
Am I A Candidate?
Vigilant screening is required in order to qualify for spinal cord stimulation. It may not work well for everyone. However, people who are suitable candidates for therapy report 50% pain reduction and significant improvement in their overall well-being.
How Long Does the Procedure Take
The treatment is different from other pain relieving techniques, as it is tried for a minor period before an individual decides to have an implant. This duration is generally a screening procedure to know whether an individual will be able to benefit from spinal cord stimulation. If a patient wishes to discontinue the trial, the doctor pulls out the lead and applies a bandage.
This makes the trial period painless and simple. Typically, trials last about a week. At the end of a trail period, a patient can ask the doctor if he can receive permanent therapy. Permanent implantation is similar to the trial period in many ways. Generators are available in various sizes. The doctor will help you choose the right location for it according to your comfort level.
In case a person decides against spinal cord stimulation, all electrodes and leads are removed to detach the temporary generator. However, when a patient receives a permanen implant, the body will require some time to heal after the procedure. Generally, recovery takes about six to eight weeks. However, it may vary from case to case. The doctor can guide you about the process and the time you will need to recover from the process.
The effectiveness of spinal cord stimulation in curing back pain is evident from the success of this treatment. Although the controller is usually ready for the individual to use immediately, it may be more suitable to wait until the post-surgery swelling goes down.