Spinal Cord Stimulation

Spinal Cord Stimulation

Spinal cord stimulation is a very effective treatment for patients suffering from spinal conditions or nerve pain. It has been in use for many decades and has experienced substantial improvement over the last several years. Spinal cord stimulation is sometimes called neuromodulation and is a process where an implantable electrode or combination of electrodes/wires are placed in the spine to prevent or mitigate pain.

Information on Spinal Cord Stimulation

Neuromodulation can be a very effective treatment of pain and is approved for many conditions. This is particularly valuable for people who have had prior surgery and continue to have pain as well as people who have nerve damage/injury or neuropathy. Talk with your provider more about spinal cord stimulation for more details.

This process involves several steps: 

  1. Prior to the stimulation you will meet with your surgeon or practitioner to learn more about the process. You may be referred for evaluation with a psychologist or social worker to be sure that you are a candidate for this treatment.
  2. The next phase of this treatment involves placement of a temporary electrode or “spinal cord stimulator trial.” This involves X-ray guided needle positioning of wires on top of the spinal cord. These wires then are tunneled under the skin and attached to a battery that is worn externally for several days. During this trial or “test drive,” you will work with the clinic and industry representatives to optimize the settings of your device. During this time, you will have the opportunity to gauge how much improvement you get from the spinal cord stimulator. After the trial period is completed, the electrodes are removed and the trial period is evaluated. Most patients elect to go to the third step of spinal cord stimulation which is permanent implantation.
  3. The permanent implant is done in an operating procedure room and this time the electrodes are placed and connected to a battery that is positioned underneath the skin. This type of configuration is not unlike placement of a pacemaker but in this instance the wires go to the spine and help control pain impulses coming from the nerves.

Complications can occur as a result of placement of a trial or an implant. Complications include but are not limited to:

  • Internal bleeding
  • Blood clots
  • Nerve injury and/or damage
  • Spinal fluid leakage
  • Infection

Altogether, these risks are smaller than the risks of traditional open surgery, and spinal cord stimulation treatment is considered reversible in that the underlying anatomy is not seriously altered.

Spinal Cord Stimulation FAQs

How long will it take to schedule my permanent surgery after my trial?2022-03-04T11:58:25+00:00

After a successful stimulator trial, we will work to get you scheduled for implant within 2 to 4 weeks. This will give your body time to heal from the trial period and also give us time to obtain insurance approval.

Why do I have to have a psychological evaluation prior to my surgery?2022-03-04T11:58:05+00:00

Most insurance companies require the psychological evaluation. Its purpose is to make certain that you have a realistic expectation about the implant and its ability to help manage your chronic pain. It is also useful to determine whether you have any related psychological conditions that may interfere with your ability to have a successful outcome.

What is the process of getting a permanent spinal cord stimulator implantation?2022-03-04T11:57:36+00:00

First, you will have to get a psychological evaluation and then a trial spinal cord stimulator. This will give you the opportunity to try the device before a permanent implantation, to decide if you are comfortable with it and if it gives you the desired pain relief you are seeking. After the trial you will then move on to the permanent implantation if you choose to do so.

How do you choose what device is best for me?2022-03-04T11:56:22+00:00

At Precision Spine Care, we use a variety of companies that offer different products based on a patient’s particular need. After your initial consultation, our doctors will discuss with you your options and together you can decide which device you would be most comfortable with.

Am I a good candidate for SCS implantation?2022-03-04T11:55:46+00:00

The best candidates for SCS implantation have severe chronic pain in their legs or arms. Patients with primarily leg or arm pain and mild back and neck pain can also benefit. In general, the wider the area of pain, the more difficult it is for SCS to be effective. Most patients who have tried more conservative therapies, but who have not experienced sufficient pain relief, are considered candidates for SCS therapy. The patient’s doctor often feels that surgery would not be beneficial.

What does the stimulation feel like?2022-03-04T11:55:21+00:00

Some patient’s describe the feeling of SCS as “tingling”. However, after the trial, if this feeling of tingling is annoying or disruptive to you, there are products available that do not have this feeling.

What type of pain can be improved with SCS?2022-03-07T19:24:28+00:00

Intractable neuropathic pain is an indication for the use of SCS. Neuropathic pain is pain that is caused by actual damage to nerve tissue and is often felt as a burning pain or stabbing pain. It is often a chronic, unrelenting pain. This pain is normally accompanied with radiculopathy to the extremities, or pain traveling down the arms and legs.

What is Spinal Cord Stimulation (SCS)?2022-03-07T19:25:41+00:00

Spinal Cord Stimulation (SCS) is the stimulation of nerves by tiny electrical pulses. An implanted lead, which is powered by an implanted battery or receiver, is placed against the patient’s spinal cord. This system sends electrical pulses that block the pain messages to the patient’s brain. SCS implantation is a reversible procedure that does not damage your spinal cord or your nerves; however there are always risks involved with every procedure and surgery. Your doctors will go over all of the risks associated with SCS implantation prior to the trial and permanent surgeries. Typically patients who have a successful SCS implantation experience 50-70% reduction in their pain.

The above information is for general education purposes only. Please ask your doctor specific questions during your visit.

Spinal cord stimulation is a very effective treatment for patients suffering from spinal conditions or nerve pain. It has been in use for many decades and has experienced substantial improvement over the last several years. Spinal cord stimulation is sometimes called neuromodulation and is a process where an implantable electrode or combination of electrodes/wires are placed in the spine to prevent or mitigate pain.

Information on Spinal Cord Stimulation

Neuromodulation can be a very effective treatment of pain and is approved for many conditions. This is particularly valuable for people who have had prior surgery and continue to have pain as well as people who have nerve damage/injury or neuropathy. Talk with your provider more about spinal cord stimulation for more details.

This process involves several steps: 

  1. Prior to the stimulation you will meet with your surgeon or practitioner to learn more about the process. You may be referred for evaluation with a psychologist or social worker to be sure that you are a candidate for this treatment.
  2. The next phase of this treatment involves placement of a temporary electrode or “spinal cord stimulator trial.” This involves X-ray guided needle positioning of wires on top of the spinal cord. These wires then are tunneled under the skin and attached to a battery that is worn externally for several days. During this trial or “test drive,” you will work with the clinic and industry representatives to optimize the settings of your device. During this time, you will have the opportunity to gauge how much improvement you get from the spinal cord stimulator. After the trial period is completed, the electrodes are removed and the trial period is evaluated. Most patients elect to go to the third step of spinal cord stimulation which is permanent implantation.
  3. The permanent implant is done in an operating procedure room and this time the electrodes are placed and connected to a battery that is positioned underneath the skin. This type of configuration is not unlike placement of a pacemaker but in this instance the wires go to the spine and help control pain impulses coming from the nerves.

Complications can occur as a result of placement of a trial or an implant. Complications include but are not limited to:

  • Internal bleeding
  • Blood clots
  • Nerve injury and/or damage
  • Spinal fluid leakage
  • Infection

Altogether, these risks are smaller than the risks of traditional open surgery, and spinal cord stimulation treatment is considered reversible in that the underlying anatomy is not seriously altered.

Spinal Cord Stimulation FAQs

How long will it take to schedule my permanent surgery after my trial?2022-03-04T11:58:25+00:00

After a successful stimulator trial, we will work to get you scheduled for implant within 2 to 4 weeks. This will give your body time to heal from the trial period and also give us time to obtain insurance approval.

Why do I have to have a psychological evaluation prior to my surgery?2022-03-04T11:58:05+00:00

Most insurance companies require the psychological evaluation. Its purpose is to make certain that you have a realistic expectation about the implant and its ability to help manage your chronic pain. It is also useful to determine whether you have any related psychological conditions that may interfere with your ability to have a successful outcome.

What is the process of getting a permanent spinal cord stimulator implantation?2022-03-04T11:57:36+00:00

First, you will have to get a psychological evaluation and then a trial spinal cord stimulator. This will give you the opportunity to try the device before a permanent implantation, to decide if you are comfortable with it and if it gives you the desired pain relief you are seeking. After the trial you will then move on to the permanent implantation if you choose to do so.

How do you choose what device is best for me?2022-03-04T11:56:22+00:00

At Precision Spine Care, we use a variety of companies that offer different products based on a patient’s particular need. After your initial consultation, our doctors will discuss with you your options and together you can decide which device you would be most comfortable with.

Am I a good candidate for SCS implantation?2022-03-04T11:55:46+00:00

The best candidates for SCS implantation have severe chronic pain in their legs or arms. Patients with primarily leg or arm pain and mild back and neck pain can also benefit. In general, the wider the area of pain, the more difficult it is for SCS to be effective. Most patients who have tried more conservative therapies, but who have not experienced sufficient pain relief, are considered candidates for SCS therapy. The patient’s doctor often feels that surgery would not be beneficial.

What does the stimulation feel like?2022-03-04T11:55:21+00:00

Some patient’s describe the feeling of SCS as “tingling”. However, after the trial, if this feeling of tingling is annoying or disruptive to you, there are products available that do not have this feeling.

What type of pain can be improved with SCS?2022-03-07T19:24:28+00:00

Intractable neuropathic pain is an indication for the use of SCS. Neuropathic pain is pain that is caused by actual damage to nerve tissue and is often felt as a burning pain or stabbing pain. It is often a chronic, unrelenting pain. This pain is normally accompanied with radiculopathy to the extremities, or pain traveling down the arms and legs.

What is Spinal Cord Stimulation (SCS)?2022-03-07T19:25:41+00:00

Spinal Cord Stimulation (SCS) is the stimulation of nerves by tiny electrical pulses. An implanted lead, which is powered by an implanted battery or receiver, is placed against the patient’s spinal cord. This system sends electrical pulses that block the pain messages to the patient’s brain. SCS implantation is a reversible procedure that does not damage your spinal cord or your nerves; however there are always risks involved with every procedure and surgery. Your doctors will go over all of the risks associated with SCS implantation prior to the trial and permanent surgeries. Typically patients who have a successful SCS implantation experience 50-70% reduction in their pain.

The above information is for general education purposes only. Please ask your doctor specific questions during your visit.

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Call Us: 903-716-6389
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