Spinal cord stimulators (SCS) are medical devices that can be used to help alleviate chronic pain in some regions of the body. These devices deliver mild electrical pulses to the spinal cord, which help disrupt pain signals and provide relief. If you or a loved one is considering this treatment option, it’s important to understand what it is and how it works. In this article, we’ll cover everything you need to know about spinal cord stimulators.
WHAT ARE THEY USED FOR?
Spinal cord stimulators are primarily used to treat chronic pain in the back, legs, and arms. They are often recommended for patients who have tried other pain management techniques such as medication, physical therapy, and surgery but have not found relief. Spinal cord stimulators are also commonly used to treat conditions such as failed back surgery syndrome, complex regional pain syndrome, and neuropathic pain.
HOW DO THEY FUNCTION?
Spinal cord stimulators work by interrupting pain signals that are sent from the affected area of the body to the brain. The device is implanted under the skin, and it delivers electrical pulses to the spinal cord through a small wire called a lead. The electrical pulses help to stimulate the nerves in the spinal cord, which can disrupt pain signals and reduce the perception of pain.
WHICH KIND OF SPINAL CORD STIMULATORS ARE AVAILABLE?
Multiple variations of spinal cord stimulators are accessible, each possessing its individual distinct characteristics and advantages. Among the most frequent categories are:
- Conventional SCS: This is the most common type of spinal cord stimulator, and it works by delivering electrical pulses to the spinal cord through one or more leads.
- High-frequency SCS: This type of stimulator uses high-frequency electrical pulses to target specific areas of the spinal cord, providing more precise pain relief.
- Burst SCS: Burst stimulation is a relatively new type of spinal cord stimulation that delivers bursts of electrical energy to the spinal cord, rather than a continuous stream of electrical pulses.
THE PROCEDURE USED BEFORE SURGERY
Before undergoing spinal cord stimulator implant surgery, patients will typically undergo a trial period to determine whether the device is an effective treatment option for them. During the trial period, a temporary lead is placed in the epidural space of the spine, and the device is connected to an external power source. Patients will then be able to adjust the settings on the device to find the most effective stimulation level.
THE SPINAL CORD STIMULATOR IMPLANT PROCEDURE: WHAT TO EXPECT
Spinal cord stimulator implant surgery is typically performed under general anesthesia, and it usually takes several hours to complete. During the procedure, the surgeon will make a small incision in the skin and implant the leads in the epidural space of the spine. The leads will then be connected to a small battery-powered generator, which will be implanted under the skin. Once the device is in place, the surgeon will test the stimulation to ensure that it is working properly.
ARE THERE ANY POTENTIAL RISKS?
Like any surgical procedure, there are risks associated with spinal cord stimulator implant surgery. Some of the most common risks include infection, bleeding, and nerve damage. However, the risks associated with the surgery are generally low, and most patients are able to return to their normal activities within a few weeks of the procedure.
In addition to the risks associated with the surgery itself, there are also some risks associated with the use of the spinal cord stimulator device. These risks include infection, lead migration, and device failure. However, these risks can be minimized by working closely with your doctor to ensure that the device is functioning properly and that you are following all of the recommended care and maintenance guidelines.
To learn more about how spinal cord stimulators can help manage chronic pain safely and effectively, call Specialty Care Clinics at 469-545-9983 and work with your doctor to follow the recommended guidelines for pain reduction and improved quality of life.