Spinal Cord Stimulator

FAQ’s on Spinal Cord Stimulator Implants

What is a Spinal Cord Stimulator?

 

The spinal cord stimulator implant device is often the final resort used for patients with chronic pain in the limbs or back. It is normally only used after every other treatment technique, including surgical correction, has been exhausted without obtaining reliable relief for any duration of time. It is common for the patients who receive this stimulator to be on daily doses of opiates but still experience some degree of symptomatic pain.

 

The device itself is implanted within the body along the spinal cord and functions by creating specific electrical signals along the spine. These mask the signals sent by the spine itself, altering the way the brain receives them and directly preventing some, if not all, of the pain the patient would normally feel.

For chronic pain, a spinal cord stimulator may be an excellent last resort.

For chronic pain, a spinal cord stimulator may be an excellent last resort.

There are three main pieces of the stimulator: the device itself which will be placed on the spine, the battery for this device which will be implanted into the skin of the buttocks (normally), and a paddle-like control device that allows the patient to control the signals emitting from the device.

 

What will a Spinal Cord Stimulator treat?

 

It is very important for a patient to understand that the spinal cord stimulator will not actually treat the underlying condition causing the pain. It is simply a device used to assist in masking the symptoms, and often only serves to reduce the amount of opiates required by the patient to obtain relief.

This device is commonly used for patients who are suffering symptomatic pains from any number of failed surgical corrections, such as direct failed back surgery or from the side effects of a failed laminectomy (surgical decompression of one or more nerves) where the patient is experiencing chronic regrowth of scar tissue that encompasses and recompresses the nerve.

The stimulator device also has applications for those patients suffering from chronic symptomatic pains due to either diabetic or peripheral neuropathy. About 70% of neuropathy patients are able to obtain some degree of relief with a stimulator, with approximately 85% of these patients reporting some degree of sensation return from the affected areas.

Spinal Cord Stimulator

Spinal Cord Stimulator

How is the Spinal Cord Stimulator insertion performed?

 

There are a number of steps that will be taken prior to the insertion of this device. The first major step is for the patient to go through a trial run using an implant, often lasting only a week.

This trial implant is generally smaller than the normal device, and functions by having the patient make a detailed account of their experiences using the device. If enough relief is obtained in a reliable manner, the patient is likely to be moved on to the reception of a full implant using the entire device and a battery pack.

How well do Spinal Cord Stimulators work?

 

These stimulators continue to increase in quality as more advances are made in the technology. The average spinal cord stimulator implant currently provides about an 84% success rate in patients. This is a vast improvement from the 62% success rate that was present in the 1990s.

 

What are the risks of a Spinal Cord Stimulator?

 

The risks associated with this procedure are vast, but are rarely harmful to the patient. If things go wrong with a stimulator, they will simply require further surgery to correct the device.

Common risks include movement of the device within the patient, leakage of spinal fluid, and infection in the surrounding tissues. The largest risk present is that the patient’s body becomes accustomed to the device and it stops providing pain relief.

SCS Trial

SCS Trial

If you or a loved one would like to learn more about Spinal Cord Stimulator, contact Premier Pain Consultants today. SCS implants have helped change lives of patients who have no other options.

Call (210) 202-4030 for more information and scheduling with pain management San Antonio trusts!