When treating chronic pain, no single approach guarantees complete pain relief. Often, relief is found using a combination of treatment options; for instance, if you have chronic back pain, your doctor may prescribe medications and recommend physical therapy. If your pain persists despite using nonsurgical treatments, you and your doctor may explore surgical options, including spinal cord stimulation The Woodlands. Read on to gain more insight into this pain management procedure.
What is a spinal cord stimulator?
A spinal cord stimulator is a device that consists of thin wires (electrodes) and a generator. The thin wires are surgically implanted between the spinal cord and epidural space while the generator is situated beneath the skin, near the buttocks or abdomen. Using a remote, patients can send electrical impulses when they feel pain. The remote control and the antenna are not implanted; they are outside the body.
The mechanism behind spinal cord stimulation remains unclear, but experts believe it targets several muscle groups from the spine and changes how the brain senses pain. Spinal cord stimulator surgery involves two procedures; one to test the device and the other to implant it permanently.
When would I need spinal cord stimulation?
Spinal cord stimulation is often an option after nonsurgical pain treatment methods offer little to no pain relief. You may discuss this pain management method with your doctor if you have chronic back pain. Spinal cord stimulation is also used to treat or manage other types of chronic pain, including post-surgical pain, angina, arachnoiditis, peripheral vascular disease, nerve-related pain, and visceral abdominal pain.
Spinal cord stimulation can alleviate pain, improve your overall quality of life and minimize the use of pain medications. Often, specialists combine spinal cord stimulation with other pain management therapies such as exercise medications, physical therapy, and relaxation methods.
Can everyone benefit from spinal cord stimulation?
Not everyone with chronic pain will benefit from spinal cord stimulation. Therefore, as with any treatment, your doctor ensures spinal cord stimulation is right for you and will likely offer significant chronic pain relief. Before making the recommendation, your doctor will order imaging tests and psychological screening to ensure your pain is not a result of other disorders like anxiety or depression. Each patient is different, but generally, spinal cord stimulation is for individuals that haven’t experienced significant pain relief with less invasive therapies. It is also an option for patients with no psychiatric disorders that can interfere with the procedure’s effectiveness.
How safe is spinal cord stimulation?
Spinal cord stimulation hardly causes any complications, but as with any surgery, it carries some risks. For instance, a small percentage may experience bleeding or develop an infection within the first two to eight weeks. The electrodes can also shift from their original position, interfering with the effectiveness of the device. If this happens, you will need follow-up surgery for the surgeon to reposition the electrodes in the right spot.
Consult your provider at William Yancey, MD, to establish if you are a good candidate for spinal cord stimulation.