What is Spinal Cord Stimulation?

Spinal cord stimulation is an advanced treatment option for chronic pain that utilizes a mild electrical stimulation delivered to the spine to intercept and minimize the sensation of pain that reaches the brain. Spinal cord stimulation is a treatment option when specific types of chronic pain have not responded to traditional treatment modalities such as medications, injection therapy and physical therapy.

How Does Spinal Cord Stimulation Work?

The spinal cord is a complex network of nerves, responsible for transmitting all kinds of signals to and from the brain at any given time. When injury or damage occurs to the body, nerve receptors in the damaged or affected area instantaneously send a “pain” signal through that network of nerves to your brain indicating injury or damage has occurred.

Spinal cord stimulation provides pain relief by modifying or masking the pain signals before they reach the brain. To accomplish this, a small device similar to a pacemaker called a neurostimulator is implanted in the body and connected to tiny electrodes or “leads” that are surgically placed in the epidural space of the spinal cord. When activated, this system sends mild electrical pulses to nerves along the spinal cord, effectively interrupting the pain pathway to the brain, masking the original pain signal with a more pleasant and manageable sensation.

Start with A Test Drive

Before a patient becomes a candidate for a permanently implanted spinal cord stimulator, a trial period must be completed where the patient gets to “test drive” an external version of the device to see if spinal cord stimulation is a viable treatment option for their chronic pain. During the trial, leads will be placed by your pain physician under guided X-ray into the epidural space. Once the leads are properly positioned, they are connected to an external pulse generator and power pack which the patient can wear around their waist like a belt. Over the next five to seven days, the patient tries the new system, assessing whether it is beneficial to them or not. Permanently implanted stimulators are not recommended in patients who obtain less than 50% pain relief from the stimulator trial.

What Conditions are Treated with Spinal Cord Stimulation?

Spinal cord stimulation is most often beneficial for patients who suffer from chronic nerve pain in the lower back and extremities. It is typically recommended when traditional treatments have not been successful. Conditions most commonly treated with spinal cord stimulation include:

  • Chronic and Severe Neuropathic Pain
  • Spinal Stenosis
  • Degenerative Disc Disease
  • Sciatica or Lumbar Radiculitis
  • Complex Regional Pain Syndrome
  • Peripheral Neuropathy
  • Failed Back Surgery Syndrome

Benefits of Spinal Cord Stimulation:

  • Immediate and sustainable reduction in pain
  • Treatment targeted to the precise area generating pain
  • Improvements in the ability to perform daily living skills
  • Reduction in need for pain medications
  • Provides increased control over management of pain symptoms

How Will I Know if Spinal Cord Stimulation is Right for Me?

Talk to your pain specialist to determine the kinds of pain treatments that may work for you. The choice of treatment depends on the type of pain, its severity, and your response to your pain treatment. If your pain specialist believes you are a good candidate for spinal cord stimulation, he/she will guide you through the screening protocols to see if spinal cord stimulation will provide adequate pain relief for your individual condition.

Contact Michigan Pain Consultants Today

Make an appointment for a new patient consultation with one of their board certified pain physicians. All of Michigan Pain Consultant’s physicians are Board Certified in Anesthesiology or Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation and have advanced training and experience in Pain Medicine. You can begin first by visiting online at MyLifeBeyondPain.com, MichiganPain.com, or by calling them at (800)281-3237.

For over 30-years and with six locations throughout West Michigan, Michigan Pain Consultants comprehensive interdisciplinary approach to pain care offers patients and providers renewed hope for relief from chronic pain. Chronic pain should be treated like other chronic medical conditions such as diabetes, asthma, or congestive heart failure. Chronic pain requires chronic treatment. The goal of the treatment is to optimize the management of the pain, as opposed to curing the pain.