Those who experience regular pain may wish they could simply “turn off” the nerve causing the pain. Through the use of a spinal cord stimulator, something along these lines can be done. Although it is not as simple as flipping a switch, a spinal cord stimulator can relieve pain and increase function in one’s daily routine.
How a Spinal Cord Stimulator Works
A spinal cord stimulator provides electrical stimulation to the spinal cord. This electrical stimulation is that a precise frequency and in a precise location so as to interrupt the transmission of pain signals. While interrupting these pain signals, the spinal cord stimulator effectively shuts off the connection between the source of pain, in this case the spine, and the pain reception site in the brain. However, it must be noted that a spinal cord stimulator does not eliminate the source of pain. Instead, it serves as an inhibitor, limiting the amount of pain that is understood by the brain. It should also be noted that a spinal cord stimulator does not reduce 100% of the pain. On average, a spinal cord stimulator can be expected to relieve somewhere between half and three-quarters of the pain experienced. This is an excellent Improvement for many. These pain signals cannot simply be interrupted, but must be replaced with alternate signals. Some spinal cord stimulator devices replace this pain signal with a signal that the brain interprets as a tingling sensation. Some people do not feel that a spinal cord stimulator Works effectively enough to be used in a long-term basis. Therefore, it is typically recommended that a trial period of spinal cord stimulation is utilized first to establish whether or not it is an effective treatment for you.
Who Should Consider a Spinal Cord Stimulator?
Spinal cord stimulation should not be simply viewed as a one-size-fits-all treatment for any minor back pain. Instead, spinal cord stimulation can serve a necessary function in long-term pain relief for those who experience chronic pain that cannot be treated otherwise. Less invasive treatments such as exercise, therapy, massage, stretching, mild medications, and injections should be looked to first. If these treatments fail, the doctor must then look to see if the pain can be treated at the source and the problem can be solved. Additionally, some minor surgeries may provide longer-lasting outcomes. Spinal cord stimulators require electricity and are therefore run off of batteries. These batteries will regularly need replaced and can be an expensive solution. Therefore, spinal cord stimulation should be weighed heavily against alternative treatments. All of that being said, spinal cord stimulation can provide lasting relief, and that is priceless.
How a Spinal Cord Stimulator is Implanted
Spinal cord stimulator will be implanted once a test run has demonstrated that it is an effective option for pain relief. Your doctor will provide specific recommendations before this trial is completed. Typically, this will include going over blood test results, x-rays, electrocardiogram, medical history including allergies, reactions to anesthetics, current prescriptions and medications, and family history. Once all of these boxes have been checked, the surgery can be undergone. During the surgery, you will be lightly sedated. Anesthetics will be provided at the incision locations, as leads are placed into the back. These leads are carefully located around the side of pain to provide stimulation of specific nerves while not overflowing to other areas. Once in place, the leads are then tested and a generator will then be implanted. Typically, this generator is placed around the hip below the waist. Once all wires and pieces of equipment are properly in place, the incisions are sewn shut and the patient will wake up. The surgery is typically an outpatient operation, so you will be discharged the same day. It is important to note that whenever anesthetics or sedatives are used, one should not operate heavy machinery such as driving.
Do you think a spinal cord stimulator would help with long-term pain relief for you? Talk to Dr. Grimm today about your pain relief.