Trial with spinal cord stimulation (SCS) is indicated for people suffering from long-term, intractable pain of the neck, back or extremities that has failed to respond to other modalities of treatment including surgery. It is most effective in treating failed back surgery and chronic neuropathic (nerve damage) pain. Spinal cord stimulation uses low-voltage electrical stimulation delivered to the spinal cord to block painful stimuli from reaching the brain.
Implantation of a spinal cord stimulator is a minimally invasive procedure that is reversible and non-destructive. A small battery operated device, called a pulse generator, sends a mild electrical current to electrodes placed near the spinal cord. Traditional spinal cord stimulation feels like a mild tingling or vibration, which replaces the pain. The newer, high-frequency spinal cord stimulation is able to block pain without any feeling of paresthesia (tingling, buzzing). Additionally, unlike traditional devices, high-frequency spinal cord stimulation can be kept on while driving and sleeping.
Prior to having a spinal cord stimulator surgically implanted, your physician will perform a trial placement of the stimulator using a temporary wire. The wire or lead will remain in place for approximately one week. This provides patients the opportunity to experience the relief available prior to undergoing full implantation surgery. The patient gets to “test drive” the device before committing to the implantation.
Spinal cord stimulation can reduce or eliminate the need for pain medications, increase function and improve quality of life.