Spinal cord stimulation is a type of palliative treatment for chronic pain. Palliative treatments are used when the underlying cause of the pain cannot be determined or attempts to treat the cause of the pain have failed. In palliative treatment, the goal is to stop the pain.
Spinal cord stimulation is a pain relief technique that delivers low voltage electrical current to the spinal cord in order to block the pain signals from reaching the brain. These electrical impulses are delivered by a small device implanted in the spinal canal that is powered by a generator implanted underneath the skin. Prior to implanting the device permanently, a trial is conducted utilizing a temporary device that is easily removed. If the trial is successful in reducing the pain, the permanent device is implanted. The permanent device is entirely underneath the skin and therefore has no visible parts.
Advantages of Spinal Cord Stimulation
- Minimally invasive to implant.
- Can be tested with a temporary stimulator before implantation.
- Programmable via computer/antenna.
- Easily re-programed if source/location of pain shifts.
- Reversible – spinal cord stimulator is easily removed.
One key advantage of the spinal cord stimulator is that it is programmable through the skin using a computer with an antenna (similar to using a remote control to change the channels on television). Consequently, should the type of pain or location of pain change the device can be re-programmed to restore its effectiveness. In addition, if the pain eventually abates or if the device is no longer effective in treating the pain, the stimulator can be removed. Accordingly, spinal cord stimulation is totally reversible.
There are quite a few painful conditions that respond well to spinal cord stimulation.
- Nerve damage
- Complex regional pain syndrome (RSD)
- Failed back surgery of the cervical or lumbar spine.
Advancements in Technology
The technology used in spinal cord stimulation has advanced a great deal in the last ten years. These technological advances have made the devices smaller, more powerful, more versatile and rechargeable through the skin with absolutely no wires attached.
If you are suffering from chronic pain, spinal cord stimulation could help reduce the pain. To learn more, contact the office of Richard Siegfried, MD to learn more.