Chronic nerve-related pain can be extremely challenging to treat, and for some patients, it requires a stronger approach. For those with persistent pain who have not responded to more typical treatments, including medication, physical therapy, chiropractic therapy, injection therapy, and even surgery, the solution may be spinal cord stimulation.
Often called the “pain pacemaker”, spinal cord stimulation (SCS) involves surgically implanting a neuromodulation device. The device sends electric signals to designated areas of the spinal cord, effectively changing pain signals to the brain.
Because of its invasive nature, we normally only recommend SCS only in cases where other treatments haven’t worked. It’s a complicated decision for a patient to make, so let’s take a look at some of the most common questions.
How Does Spinal Cord Stimulation Work?
The device is inserted into the body near the spinal cord, along with a pulse generator, which is about the diameter of a silver dollar. When turned on, the device sends electrical signals to the spinal cord or specific nerves that either blocks the pain signal or alters it to a more tolerable tingling sensation. Patients can control the strength of the signals and can turn the device on and off as needed.
Is SCS Safe?
Yes, the procedure and devices have been safely used for more than 40 years to combat chronic pain symptoms, and they are FDA approved. Of course, any invasive procedures carry a small level of risk, and we take every precaution needed to ensure that the treatment is right for the patient and that it is conducted in a safe manner.
Does SCS Eliminate Pain And The Need For Medication?
This can vary from patient to patient. We always run a trial period for patients receiving SCS, and we consider it successful if pain is reduced by at least 50 percent. To that end, some patients may need to continue using medications. We work with all our patients to develop a personalized course of treatment to manage their pain as best as possible.
Do I Use SCS 24 Hours/Day?
This really comes down to personal preference. Some patients need more stimulation, while others need less. The devices uses a rechargeable battery that is designed to be kept running 24 hours per day.
How Does The Rechargeable Battery Work?
The charger is lightweight, wireless and portable, designed to be used at any time. It can be placed directly on the skin, held in place using an adhesive patch of soft cloth belt (included with the charger). Patients are encouraged to find a recharging schedule that fits their lifestyle, and the system comes with a wireless remote that indicates when the battery needs to be recharged.
If you’re experiencing chronic nerve pain that just won’t quit, you may be a candidate for spinal cord stimulation. If you’d like to learn more, contact us to schedule a consultation.
Please call Pain and Spine Specialists in Maryland at 301.703.8767, or 724-603-3560 in Pennsylvania to schedule a consultation or use the contact form on our website to send us a message.