What is a Spinal Cord Stimulator Implant?
A spinal cord stimulator, known as an SCS, uses electrical impulses to relieve severe, chronic pain within the back, arms and legs. The stimulator is controlled remotely with a wireless device, allowing the patient to turn it on or off, adjust the stimulation power level and switch between programs. It is believed that the success within this minimally invasive method of pain management stems from the electrical pulses generated, which prevent pain signals from being received by the brain. The pulses interfere with certain signals that make you experience pain and can even block them entirely from the brain’s perception.
Patients are required to undergo an initial trial with an external spinal cord stimulator. If the trial is successful, a stimulator is permanently implanted beneath the patient’s skin in the buttocks or the abdomen. Our back, spine and pain management physicians will carefully evaluate each patient to determine the appropriateness of a spinal cord stimulator implant. Typically, ideal candidates are those who suffer from neuropathic pain, severe and chronic syndromes, debilitating nerve-related pain and/or those who have experienced the failure of conservative treatment options.
Our Treatment Approach
The first step in receiving a spinal cord stimulator implant is to undergo a trial implantation. Typically, the trial will involve the following:
- The injection site is anesthetized and one or more insulated wire leads are inserted through an epidural needle or small incision into the space surrounding the spinal cord.
- Electrodes located at the end of the lead produce electrical impulses that stimulate the nerves and block pain signals in the brain. The leads are attached to an external trial stimulator, which is typically used for about one week to determine its effectiveness on the patient’s pain.
- The patient will provide feedback to help the physician best determine where to place the stimulators to most effectively block out pain.
Once the trial has been completed and our back, spine and pain physicians have determined this is a viable course of treatment for you, permanent implantation will be performed under sedation or general anesthesia. The implant is positioned beneath the skin and the leads are connected to its battery. The electrical pulses are then programmed and controlled using a wireless external programmer for easy control.
At The Spine & Orthopedic Institute, our physicians work closely with each patient to create the best treatment plan for their individual needs. Contact us for more details on our non-surgical and minimally invasive treatments and to schedule a consultation with one of our experienced physicians today.