Chronic pain is exhausting. It makes everything you do a chore. Getting up from a chair? Better do it just right. Walking the dog? Hopefully today’s a good day. Lifting more than about 10 pounds? Cross your fingers that your back doesn’t punish you.
At Summit Healthcare Pain Clinic, Dr. Trujillo has many patients who have tried seemingly every conceivable treatment to address their pain, but the pain is still there every day. For these situations, Dr. Trujillo may recommend the placement of a device to provide spinal cord stimulation.
What is spinal cord stimulation?
This procedure involves Dr. Trujillo placing a tiny device, similar in size to a pacemaker, near the spinal cord. Wires, called leads, run from the device into the epidural space. The spinal cord stimulation device then generates mild electrical pulses down the leads into the epidural space. These pulses can modify or block pain messages sent to the brain by the nerves.
Who could benefit from spinal cord stimulation?
This option may be effective for patients suffering from chronic neck or back pain, or conditions like arachnoiditis, complex regional pain syndrome, peripheral neuropathy, and refractory angina. This is often a course of treatment when a patient has a condition known as “failed back surgery syndrome.” This is a condition where patients continue to experience pain even after one or more back surgeries.
How is the device implanted?
In most cases, Dr. Trujillo advises patients to undergo a trial period to see if the device alleviates their pain before having it implanted. During the trial procedure, the leads are inserted, but the transmitter is not implanted. Instead the leads are connected to an external device that the patient wears outside the body.
When implanting the leads, we administer local anesthesia and sedation. Dr. Trujillo then inserts a hollow needle into the epidural space, through which the leads are passed. Patients are awakened after the leads have been placed so that they can provide feedback on the placement. When the locations are satisfactory, the leads are connected to an external neurostimulator that is worn on a belt. The trial period is usually about one week.
If the patient feels the spinal cord stimulation is helpful, the device will be implanted. Devices can vary in size, the largest being about the size of a stopwatch. They can be implanted in the abdomen, upper buttocks, or the upper chest. Wires are then tunneled through the body from the leads to the generator. The patient is given a controller to adjust the stimulation as needed. The devices last from 10-25 years.
If you’re dealing with chronic pain, Dr. Trujillo needs to see you at Summit Healthcare Pain Clinic Associates. Call us at (855) 768-4968 to schedule an appointment.