Approved by the FDA in 1989, Spinal Cord Stimulators have become a major treatment for patients suffering from chronic pain in the neck, back or limbs who have not found relief in other forms of treatment. However, the treatment doesn’t work for everyone; it is only recommended for patients who can’t find relief from any other type of treatment not even surgery.
However, the patients who do qualify for the treatment report a 50%-70% reduction in chronic pain. Not only reduction in pain, but these patients also become more active and experience an increase in the ability to lead a normal life and participate in all family and work activities.
Spinal Cord Stimulators also decrease the need for painkillers or other medications. Because of these benefits, research is continuously being done on spinal cord stimulation and they get more popular every year.
How do Spinal Cord Stimulators Work?
Spinal Cord Stimulators do not eliminate the source of chronic pain but they reduce it by interfering with the brain signals that help the brain to perceive the pain. By emitting a constant electrical current to the source of chronic pain, it creates a pleasant sensation and blocks the brain’s ability to perceive the pain. This reduces chronic pain and ultimately helps a person in leading a more normal life.
How is Spinal Cord Stimulation Procedure Done?
Unlike other types of pain treatment, Spinal Cord Stimulation always includes a short trial period of 1 week, in which leads are inserted under the skin and are connected to an electrical generator that the person carries like a pager or cell phone. The generator has pre-set programs that are used to emit electrical currents to the target area. If the person enjoys significant pain relief during this trial period, he may wish to have a permanent system placed in his body.
In the permanent system, the generator is placed on the upper buttock or lower abdomen and everything is connected inside the body with nothing visible on the outside. This procedure is done surgically by numbing the patient with a local anesthetic.
However, the surgery doesn’t require any overnight stay and is done mostly in 60-90 minutes. The generator can be programmed and controlled with a remote control just like you control the television. A person can adjust the electrical currents to enjoy optimum pain relief.
Advantages of Spinal cord Stimulation
- It involves a trial treatment before the patient commits to the full procedure.
- It is easily removable or reversible.
- It is easily implanted with a minor surgery on an outpatient basis.
- It is so small that it doesn’t interfere with any recreational activity like swimming and the person can wear anything even bathing suit.
- It allows patients to reduce or potentially eliminate their need for narcotic drugs.
- The programmable generator means the patient can adjust the stimulation as the pain changes in location or severity.
Risks of Spinal Cord Stimulation
There are potential risks and complications involved with spinal cord stimulation;
- Allergic reaction to the implanted material
- Pain at the incision site
- Weakness or numbness
- Skin breakdown at the incision site
- Stimulation may lose its effectiveness
The usage of spinal cord stimulator implants for neck pain is growing. The technology began with back pain, and when it was shown to be viable and effective, now chronic neck pain has seen success.
The pain management doctors in Phoenix at Arizona Pain Specialists are Board Certified and Award Winning. The AZ pain doctors are experts in both the medical management of pain and interventional procedures. This includes cutting edge procedures such as radiofrequency ablation and spinal cord stimulator implants.
Arizona Pain accepts over 50 insurance plans at 5 locations and has BCBS pain doctors, Cigna pain doctors, Aetna, Humana, United and more. The Phoenix pain clinics also accept Medicare, AHCCCS, Workers Compensation, Personal Injury and self pay.
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