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Treatment overview and more!
Spinal cord stimulation (SCS) has been shown to reduce the intensity of chronic pain by an average of 49%, resulting in significant improvements in quality of life and patient satisfaction - The Journal of Neurosurgery. Research has also shown that SCS can provide five years of meaningful pain relief with 86% of patients reporting a successful result.
To learn more about the spinal cord stimulation (SCS) procedure, the trial, and other frequently asked questions, use the resource buttons listed below. If you are ready to speak with one of our board-certified pain specialists, please use our contact form here or give us a call to schedule your new patient consultation.
During your initial consultation, our pain specialists will evaluate your current health condition and medical history to determine whether SCS treatment is a suitable option for you. If it is, the next step is to proceed with a trial to confirm the efficacy of the treatment before the implantation process.
I LOVE LOVE LOVE this office. I was helping my mom find a place for her arthritis pain, and I explained to them how bad it was. They were able to schedule me the same week! That's almost impossible at any doctor's office...and then add COVID..... I was thrilled. I took my mom, and everyone was absolutely so sweet and kind
- Donyasha B.
Dr. Rao. I can't find the words to tell you how much he has meant to me. I followed him from an old practice to his very new high tech office. They offer so many different areas of assistance to those with issues from nutrition to spinal surgery...and much more. His office is professional.
- Mom To2
Dr. Roa is such an amazing doctor! During my first visit he never tried to rush through my appt., he genuinely listened to all my concerns and then took his time to explain to me in detail all his recommendations and how they would help me.
- Nikki Walker
In the 3 years as a patient of Dr. Rao, it is my opinion that he is a phenomenal and extraordinary doctor. He keeps up to date with the latest treatment options, will sacrifice time no matter how many are in the waiting room to listen and explain. Dr. Rao has treated multiple patients with rare illnesses, and shows more empathy than any Dr. I’ve met.
- Mom To2
I have now been with Dr. Rao for 13 years. He is the most caring Doctor I have ever been to! Dr. Rao makes you feel very comfortable at all times. I would not want to go to any other Doctor... I go to the Hagerstown location, everyone is very nice
- Theresa R.
The entire staff from the folks at the front desk to the Nurse, to the Physicians Assistant to the scribe that records the visit for the doctor - (great idea so the Doctor can focus on the patient!!!)
- NVA F.
Completely the best care you could want the staff is so pleasant and caring and the doctors have true heart for healing, love being a patient here would give 10 stars if I could & absolutely the most caring during my procedure with Dr B
- Cathern C.
Always friendly, courteous, and efficient service. From the ladies, who work the front desk, to the nurses and the doctors. I've always had a good experience with the Harrisonburg office in Virginia.
They scheduled my appointment very quickly so that I can get to help that I needed immediately instead of like most places having to wait two to three weeks to get in I called and was able to be seen the next day
- John H.
After transitioning from a pain and spine doctor in Columbia, MD.. The intake staff member at Pain and Spine Specialist made the scheduling a breeze. They were able to get me in within a week.
Spinal Cord Stimulator Treatment Guide
Board Certified Doctors
Patients Seen Within Two Weeks
The spinal cord stimulator is a small device surgically placed in the spine. The device has small threads (or leads) that are placed in the lower back region, between the spinal cord and the epidural space (the vertebrae).
The device works by delivering mild electrical impulses to the spinal cord, which alters the pain signals that are sent to the brain. This technique masks the pain signals, providing patients with relief. SCS is viewed as an alternative to traditional pain management techniques, such as opioids, and has a lower risk of addiction or overdose. The implantation of the device is done by a surgical procedure and is considered minimally invasive.
Patients can manage their pain symptoms with a small remote that gives patients more control over their pain levels. Using the Spinal Cord Stimulator controller is a straightforward process. The device is small and has a few buttons that patients can use to adjust the intensity of the electrical stimulation.
All patients are given clear instructions on how to use SCS remote, and our team of medical professionals can also provide guidance and assistance as needed. With proper use, SCS remotes can provide patients with a high degree of control over their pain and improve their quality of life.
Spinal Cord Stimulation Webinar
Check out this webinar hosted by Dr. Sudhir Rao, our medical director, for a comprehensive overview of the SCS procedure.
During the webinar, Dr. Rao provides an in-depth discussion about Spinal Cord Stimulation, including what it is, how it works, and who may be a good candidate for the procedure. He will also cover details about the SCS implantation process, as well as the recovery and follow-up process.
When experiencing chronic back pain, seeking a pain management specialist's guidance is crucial. At Pain and Spine Specialists, our team of spinal cord stimulator doctors will first evaluate your medical history and review any pain symptoms you are experiencing. We will also conduct a physical examination to check for neurological defects or other potential causes of the pain, such as spinal stenosis, degenerative disc disease or a herniated disc.
In addition, our physicians may request imaging tests (X-ray, MRI, CT scan, etc.) to get a more comprehensive look. If these tests reveal that the pain originates from the dorsal root ganglion (DRG) or the spinal cord, then you may be a candidate for spinal cord stimulation treatment.
After diagnosing your condition we typically recommend nonsurgical treatments such as medications, physical therapy or steroid injections before considering SCS therapy. If these treatments do not provide sufficient relief then Spinal Cord Stimulation may be a good next step. Our specialists will review the benefits of the device and any potential risks you may incur, and they will then advise you on the necessary steps to have the device implanted.
What Conditions Does Spinal Cord Stimulation Treat?
Spinal Cord Stimulation (SCS) is typically used to treat chronic pain conditions that have not responded well to other treatments.
It's important to note that using SCS for these conditions is only sometimes appropriate, and a qualified healthcare provider should make the decision to use SCS as a treatment option on a case-by-case basis.
Is SCS A Good Alternative To Opioids?
Spinal cord stimulation (SCS) is considered a great alternative to opioid pain management for some patients. Opioid pain medications can be effective in managing chronic pain, but they also carry a risk of addiction, dependence, and other side effects. SCS, on the other hand, provides pain relief by using electrical impulses to disrupt pain signals to the brain without needing medication.
SCS can also be used in conjunction with medications for pain management. Many patients who undergo SCS continue to take medications, although in many cases, patients are able to reduce their usage or stop altogether.
Spinal Cord Stimulation is often used as part of a multimodal pain management approach, which may include medications, physical therapy, and other treatments. Using SCS in combination with medication can provide patients with more effective pain relief, allowing them to achieve a better quality of life.
At Pain and Spine Specialists, we offer medication management services so patients are carefully monitored and assisted during opioid medication use.
Starting the process for an SCS
Once you decide to move forward with a Spinal Cord Stimulator, there are a few steps you must follow. The initial part of the process requires you to schedule a psychological evaluation. This psychological evaluation is administered before the trial to determine if there is any mental health risk due to SCS placement.
Some patients do not respond well to a foreign device being surgically implanted in their body. For those individuals, a surgically placed device may heighten anxiety and worry.
Elevated stress levels may negatively impact the effectiveness of the SCS, and you may continue to feel pain in the same manner. Since Spinal Cord Stimulation requires surgery for placement and use, a psychological evaluation is vital for all parties involved to ensure the patient will receive the best outcome possible.
If the psychological evaluation indicates that a patient is not emotionally capable of handling the placement of the device, then we cannot proceed with the procedure. Fortunately, there are alternative treatments to Spinal Cord Stimulation that can then be considered during a follow-up consultation.
The psychological evaluation must be completed by a mental health professional, who will review basic information, medical history, and your struggle with chronic pain. Once the mental health professional has completed their evaluation and determined you are a good fit, you may proceed to the next steps.
The SCS Trial Procedure
Once an individual has successfully completed their psychological evaluation, they proceed to a trial SCS period.
With the spinal cord stimulator trial, patients can experience the benefits of SCS without undergoing full surgery. This trial period allows patients to test-run the device at home and evaluate their pain relief. The trial will last roughly 3-5 days, allowing you to determine if the pain symptoms are subsiding. If you experience a 50% reduction in pain (or more), the SCS trial can be considered a success.
spinal Cord stimulator trial procedure:
The trial SCS is an outpatient procedure and can be done in a doctor's office or an outpatient facility.
During the spinal stimulator trial procedure, your pain management doctor will place the temporary SCS trial implant using fluoroscopy. Fluoroscopy is a medical imaging technique that uses X-rays to create real-time moving images of the internal structures of a patient's body. It is often used to assist doctors during surgical procedures, as it allows them to see the inside of the body and guide their instruments with precision.
Based on the location of your pain, the SCS trial leads will be carefully and precisely placed in specific portions of your epidural space, which is the area surrounding the spinal cord.
Spinal cord stimulation leads are thin wires that are connected to a small device called a spinal cord stimulator, which delivers electrical impulses to the spinal cord. These impulses are what interfere with the pain signals that are sent to the brain
For the SCS Trial, the stimulator device will not be surgically implanted inside the body; only the lead wires will be placed fluoroscopically.
Spinal cord stimulator implant and Lead Placement
After a successful spinal cord stimulation trial, you can move forward with a permanent implant procedure. The procedure requires minimally invasive surgery, but surgery nonetheless.
Please note that a permanent Spinal Cord Stimulation (SCS) implant can be removed in the future if necessary. Reasons for removal may include a change in the patient's medical condition or if the device is no longer effectively controlling the patient's pain.
SCS Procedure Steps:
- Preoperative Preparation: The patient is prepared for surgery, which involves cleaning the area where the generator will be implanted and administering local anesthesia to numb the area.
- Placement of the Leads: A surgeon will make a small incision in the patient's back, carefully insert the leads through a needle or catheter, and place them in the epidural space surrounding the spinal cord. The leads are then secured in place with sutures.
- Placement of the Generator: Once the leads are in place, a small incision is made near the hip or abdomen, and the generator is implanted under the skin. The surgeon then connects the leads to the generator and tests the system to ensure it works correctly.
- Closing the Incisions: After the generator is in place, the surgeon will close the incisions with sutures or surgical staples and cover them with a sterile dressing.
- Postoperative Recovery: After the procedure, the patient is taken to a recovery area, where they are monitored for a short period before being released. The patient can usually go home the same day or the day after the surgery.
spinal cord stimulator recovery time
Recovery from this procedure will take a shorter amount of time than other standard spinal surgeries. Postoperatively, you may resume light activities after a few weeks, with a full recovery typically after eight weeks.
Your surgeon and pain specialist will monitor your recovery to ensure you have a successful outcome from SCS implantation. For many patients, the mild electrical impulses that alter and mask the pain signals are a significant reprieve from their previous pain experiences. Instead of pain radiating through your back, the sensation changes to something manageable.
The pain-relieving stimulation can be flexibly programmed for appropriate therapy to provide a gentle tingling sensation. A mild tingle wins over the pain that radiates.
Why Choose SCS
The spinal cord stimulator is clinically proven and FDA-approved to treat various chronic pain conditions. Compared to conventional pain treatments, SCS is often more effective in reducing pain and improving a patient's quality of life. With SCS, patients can take control of their pain management and pursue activities that would have otherwise been too painful in the past.
Check Out Our Podcast
View our providers, locations, services, and patient reviews.
Spinal Cord Stimulation Treatment Overview
Candidates for Treatment
Patients with the following disorders, injuries, diseases, or infections may be candidates for a Spinal Cord Stimulation:
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Frequently Asked Questions
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At Pain and Spine Specialists we want to provide the most efficient and pleasurable experience possible. As in all medical facilities, we have certain policies in place to ensure that you receive the time you require to address your needs as well as enhance your experience while in our care.