Spinal Cord Stimulation

Spinal cord stimulation is an advanced therapy which is primarily used to treat intractable pain in patients who have had a previous back or neck surgery. While this modality has been used for about 20 years, advances in this technology are becoming available at a rapid pace. Our doctors are actively evaluating new stimulation devices and techniques to ensure that our patients are getting state of the art pain relief using spinal cord stimulation. When injection and medication management fail to control your pain, this may be an option for you.

Once you have been offered spinal cord stimulation, the first step in the process is to conduct a “trial” of the therapy. The trial will be performed in our in-office x-ray suite and generally takes 30-45 minutes. You will be given a mild IV sedation. Deep sedation or general anesthesia is not required. During the in-office trial, one or two leads will be placed in the epidural space and connected to an external remote control. The remote control will be programmed so that you will feel a tingling or vibration sensation in the areas where you are experiencing pain. You will test the device at home for 7-10 days prior to making a decision to implant the device.

If you and your provider decide to go ahead with implantation, you will be taken to the outpatient surgery center for implantation of the components under the skin. This is a day surgery procedure. You will be given a similar level of sedation while the epidural leads are placed and then will have a deeper “twilight sleep”. You will not be given a general anesthetic for this surgery. Two weeks after the implant your device will be fully operational. Once implanted, we expect to fine tune the programming over the next 2-3 months in order to maximize your pain relief.

Spinal cord stimulation is a powerful method to control your pain and is one of the options we use to minimize the amount of opioids needed. Please ask your provider for a brochure describing the therapy in more detail. Your provider will also discuss the risks vs. benefits, potential side effects, and post-procedure instructions.

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