Spinal Cord Stimulation
Neck and back pain can affect your quality of life by making even simple tasks difficult. There are several different options available to treat, manage, and reduce neck and back pain, depending on the cause. Some patients have tried many different treatments to relieve neck and back pain, from medications to surgery, with little relief. For these patients, spinal cord stimulation may be an option.
What Is Spinal Cord Stimulation?
Spinal cord stimulation is a procedure during which thin, insulated wires called leads are implanted in the epidural space surrounding the spinal column. A small device implanted near the spinal cord generates mild electrical pulses. This process can modify or block pain “messages” sent to the brain by the nerves.
The spinal cord stimulation device is similar to a pacemaker used to control abnormal heart rhythms. This procedure can be an effective solution for patients that have not found relief from back and neck pain through other treatment methods.
What Can Spinal Cord Stimulation Help?
Spinal cord stimulation is often used to treat a condition called failed back surgery syndrome, a term used for patients who continue to experience pain even after one or more surgical procedures. It may also be recommended for patients with chronic neck or back pain, or conditions like arachnoiditis, complex regional pain syndrome, peripheral neuropathy, and refractory angina.
Spinal cord stimulation may not be suitable for patients with an infection, particularly an infection that affects the entire body or the intended site of the stimulation device. It is also not recommended for patients who have a demand-type cardiac pacemaker, untreated bleeding disorders, untreated drug addiction, or a psychiatric condition that could contribute to the pain.
“This was my first time at Summit. From the moment I arrived till I left it was a great experience. We will be moving to Lakeside in a few months. So happy to know there is a very reliable place to go for medical care.” -Louella
Benefits Of Spinal Cord Stimulator
Spinal cord stimulation can offer several benefits for the right patients. While spinal cord stimulation typically does not relieve pain completely, it is an effective long-term solution that can significantly reduce pain, without many of the side effects of other treatments. Implantation of the spinal cord stimulation device is minimally invasive compared to other procedures to treat neck and back pain.
- Minimally invasive
- Targeted pain relief
- Reduces need for medication
- Less side effects from treatment
Trial Stimulator Implant Procedure
Unlike other spinal procedures, spinal cord stimulation is also reversible, and patients are able to undergo a trial period before having the device implanted. Patients typically undergo a trial period before the complete procedure is done. During the trial procedure, the wires (called leads) are inserted, but the transmitter is not implanted. Instead, the leads are connected to an external device that the patient wears outside of the body.
To implant the leads, patients are given local anesthesia and may also be sedated. Dr. Trujillo then inserts a hollow needle into the epidural space, through which the leads are passed. Patients awakened after the leads have been placed so that they can give Dr. Trujillo feedback on the placement. When all pain areas have been covered, the leads are connected to an external neurostimulator, which patients wear on a belt.
The trial period typically lasts about a week. If the patient experiences sufficient pain relief and wishes to proceed, Dr. Trujillo will move forward with the procedure to add the spinal cord stimulation implant. If the patient does not wish to proceed, the leads and external device are removed.
Implantation of Spinal Cord Stimulator
The procedure to implant the device is similar to the trial procedure. Permanent leads are implanted, just as the temporary leads were. Once the permanent leads are in place, the generator is implanted via a small incision. Generators can vary in size, but the largest ones are about the size of a stopwatch. Generators may be implanted in the abdomen, upper buttocks, or upper chest, depending on the patient’s preferences. Wires are then tunneled through the body from the leads to the generator. Patients are given a controller to adjust the stimulation as needed.
Because it is a surgical procedure, patients may need a few weeks or months to completely recover. The device is usually not visible under clothing. The devices typically last 10-25 years before replacement.
Schedule a Consultation
Dr. Dax Trujillo offers several treatment options to help patients with chronic neck and back pain, including spinal cord stimulation. If you would like to learn more about spinal cord stimulation or schedule an appointment, please call our office at 928-532-1605.