September 19

Living With a Spinal Cord Stimulator: How Effective Is This Treatment for Chronic Pain?

Globally, more than 500,000 people suffer from spinal cord injuries every year. Spinal cord injuries can vary in severity, but in general, they tend to be a very serious type of injury. In some cases, a spinal cord injury can be so severe that it leaves a person paralyzed or it leaves a person with chronic pain for the rest of their life.

This is why it’s important to understand what living with a spinal cord stimulator entails. But what is spinal cord stimulation in Columbia, Maryland? What can a spinal cord stimulator for neck pain or back pain do? Keep reading and learn more about the importance of spinal cord stimulation treatment in Maryland.


What You Need To Know About Living With a Spinal Cord Stimulator

You might be wondering why a person would consider a spinal cord stimulator in Columbia, Maryland, when there are many other chronic pain treatments available. For example, there are many types of pain medications available to treat chronic pain associated with a spinal cord injury. Indeed, certain medications like opioids are very helpful for reducing a person’s pain and they can work well for many years as long as they’re used properly and not abused.

However, it is important to keep in mind that a spinal cord injury is a life-long problem. For that reason, the pain that comes with it is usually also life-long. While pain medications can work for long periods of time, even years, they will eventually start to have an ill effect on the liver. This might not happen for a decade or even more.

However, if a person with a spinal cord injury wants to think ahead or try something different, a spinal cord stimulator is certainly a good place to start. Many people like to try both pain medication and spinal cord stimulation first. That way, they can see if spinal cord stimulation really works for them.

After all, everyone’s pain tolerance and response to pain treatment are different. For some, spinal cord stimulation might work very well while it might not be a great option for others. Even so, in general, many people find that this kind of pain treatment is very helpful.

But before you look up, “spinal cord stimulator doctors near me,” you should first learn a little bit about spinal cord stimulation in general. The basis of a spinal cord stimulator is that it sends electrical impulses to your spinal cord.

It does this in a particular way because of how the device’s electrodes are positioned. In particular, the stimulator’s electrodes need to rest between a person’s vertebrae and spinal cord. This is known as the epidural space.

The Details

Placing the electrodes in this space puts the electrodes in very close contact with the spinal cord itself. This, of course, should make the treatment quite successful. A small incision is required for this to be possible.

Then, the electrodes are placed under the skin along the spine. They will be placed around the region that feels the most pain. Part of the device, however, remains outside the body.

Specifically, the antennae of the device remain outside of the body so the patient can control the electrical impulses generated in the electrodes inside the body. This is possible by allowing the patient to use a special controlling device. Then, the patient can decide when to use the controller device to send electrical impulses into their spine from the electrodes.

This should be done when the patient feels pain. If the person’s pain comes and goes in waves, the patient is free to use the device when the sensation of pain comes around. On the other hand, if the patient is always in constant pain, the patient may choose for there to be a constant stream of electrode activation to help the problem.


How Does Spinal Cord Stimulation Work Exactly?

Many find that a spinal cord stimulator for back pain or related spinal pain is quite beneficial for a variety of reasons. The interesting thing is that researchers and scientists are still unsure as to how spinal cord stimulation works. While it makes sense that the electrical impulses of the electrodes should alter the pain impulses in the spine, it is unknown how this translates to pain relief.

The theory is that spinal cord stimulation can somehow change the way the brain registers pain. It is also known that the impulses from the electrodes innervate the muscles surrounding the spine. This may make the brain focus more on the feeling of those muscles rather than the pain in and around the spinal cord.

Keep in mind, however, that spinal cord stimulation doesn’t cause one’s pain to completely vanish. Instead, spinal cord stimulation reduces the feeling of one’s pain and then replaces that sensation with one called paresthesia. Paresthesia is the feeling of tingling in the treated area.

While this tingling is very light, some patients may find it to be very uncomfortable. It would be a feeling similar to an arm or leg falling asleep. Because this sensation is unpleasant to quite a few people, there are certain spinal cord stimulators that aim to reduce the feeling of paresthesia as well as the sensation of pain.

These spinal cord stimulators are known as sub-perception stimulators. This makes the overall experience of having a spinal cord stimulator much more pleasant. If you are considering this type of treatment for your pain, keep in mind that you don’t need to jump in right away.

What You Need to Know

Most people need to go through a trial period of treatment with this device to make sure that it really works for them and that no complications arise. The trial will begin with a spinal cord stimulation implanted into your spine, but this stimulator will only be temporary. If it works well, you can choose to have it replaced with a more permanent option.

You may be awake for the implantation procedure. This is because you need to tell your doctor exactly where to put the electrodes along your spine. Otherwise, the pain relief won’t work as well as it’s supposed to.

You will need to wear the temporary device for a week or so. Then, you will go back to your doctor and report on your level of pain relief. The results are positive if you report that your pain has decreased by more than 50%.

If this is not the case, your doctor can remove the spinal cord stimulation device without any issues and you can continue with whatever pain relief treatments you were using before.


Are You a Good Candidate for Spinal Cord Stimulation?

While this kind of pain treatment may sound promising, you might be wondering if spinal cord stimulation in Baltimore, Maryland, is the right choice for you. The answer depends on a variety of factors. For example, consider what kind of pain treatments you have been trying so far for your spinal cord pain.

If you have been using pain medication but find that it doesn’t do much to help your pain, spinal cord stimulation may be a good alternative option for you. If you have had surgery in the past to help improve your spinal cord pain but to no avail, spinal cord stimulation may also be a good option for you. Spinal cord stimulation is slowly becoming a more and more popular option for those who have experienced moderate to severe damage to their spines in the past.

For example, in some cases following back surgery, the patient may find themselves in chronic pain. This may be because the surgeon made a mistake during surgery. Whatever the case, spinal cord stimulation is a good option to reduce the pain in such a patient.

There are also some people who have sustained an injury to their spinal cord such as those who have been in a car crash or similar accident. There are also some people who suffer from inflammation of certain parts of the spinal cord. Whatever the case, if more traditional pain relief treatments have not worked well for you, then it may be time to try spinal cord stimulation.

A woman in a white shirt experiencing spinal cord pain


All About Living With a Spinal Cord Stimulator

Living with a spinal cord stimulator may sound like a daunting task, but it can actually be a very helpful option for those who suffer from chronic spinal pain. A spinal cord stimulator works by sending electrical impulses directly into the spinal cord to reduce any pain in the area. For many people, it tends to work quite well.

To learn more or to make an appointment, click here.


Tags

Chronic Pain Conditions, Spine Disorders


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