When Dr. Trujillo encounters chronic back pain, he’ll employ a variety of treatments to try to alleviate the pain. But nerve pain doesn’t always show itself in the location it originates and pinpointing it can be difficult. We may use different treatments from epidural injections to radiofrequency ablation, but pain may still linger.
In these cases, Dr. Trujillo may move to spinal cord stimulation.
What is spinal cord stimulation?
Spinal cord stimulation is a procedure that delivers low-level electrical signals to the spinal cord or to specific nerves to block the pain signals from reaching the brain. To do so, we use thin, insulated wires that we implant in the epidural space surrounding the spinal column. A small device implanted near the spinal cord generates mild electrical pulses that then block the pain signals.
If you’re familiar with pacemakers implanted to stop arrythmia, abnormal heart rhythms, this is similar. Instead of overriding the abnormal electrical signals creating the irregular heart beats, these pacemakers simply work to block the pain messages.
When is spinal cord stimulation appropriate?
Dr. Trujillo often uses this treatment option when a patient has had back surgery, such as a microdiscectomy, and the surgery has failed to stop the pain. Here are other instances where spinal cord stimulation could be appropriate:
- Chronic neck pain
- Chronic back pain
- Complex regional pain syndrome
- Peripheral neuropathy
- Refractory angina
How it is done
These procedures usually start with a trial period, where Dr. Trujillo implants the leads, but not the implant device. With the patient anesthetized, he inserts a hollow needle into the epidural space. The leads are then passed through this needle and placed. The patient is then awakened to provide feedback to Dr. Trujillo on the placement. Once satisfied with the placement, the leads are connected to an external neurostimulator that the patient wears on a belt.
If the trial period of one week or so is successful, the patient returns to our offices and Dr. Trujillo implants the generator. These are about the size of a watch and are usually implanted on the upper buttocks or upper chest. The patient may have preference in the placement.
If you have chronic back or neck pain, there’s no reason to live with it; you have your life to live. Call us at Summit Healthcare Pain Clinic, (855) 768-4968, and let’s see how we can help.