Spinal Cord Stimulation
What is Spinal Cord Stimulation?
Spinal Cord Stimulation (SCS) uses groundbreaking technology that works by introducing an electrical current into the epidural space near the source of chronic pain impulses. Do not confuse with an EMG. Under a local anesthetic and minimal sedation, a doctor places the trial SCS leads into the epidural space. The physician inserts the SCS lead, a soft thin wire with electrical leads on its tip, into the epidural space by passing it though a hollow needle inserted into the back. The physician tapes the leads in place for the duration of a 5-7 day trial to see if the stimulator will offer relief before permanent implantation by a spine surgeon. Patients given a acceptable level of pain relief by the trial stimulator have the option of undergoing permanent implantation of the spinal stimulating device.
How does Spinal Cord Stimulation work?
The implanted device near the area of pain produces a low-voltage current and creates a sensation that interferes with the nervous systems ability to sense the previously perceived pain, even replacing those sensations with pleasant ones. A controllable range of intensity exists that the stimulator can provide at the current need the patient. The patient has a remote control linked to the device and has a range of options, from low to high intensity, sensation choices, and can turn on or off the device at their discretion. The patient controls the level of pain they experience going forward they can live their life without debilitating pain.
Spinal Cord Stimulation Trial
Your physician performs your stimulation trial in a short procedure under light sedation. Administration of a local anesthetic precedes the insertion of the leads. The procedure consists of one or more leads inserted into the epidural space along the spinal cord. The exact placement depends on the location of the pain. The physician finds the ideal position for the leads before connecting them to a portable external generator. After temporary bringing the patient out of sedation the physician confirms with the patient the stimulation of their pain source. The physician completes the procedure after returning the patient to sedation. The system generates mild electrical impulses around the nerves that sense the patients most problematic pain areas. A device representative programs the stimulator to replace the areas of intense pain with a more pleasant sensation known as paresthesia. Nerves communicate with electrical impulses and the stimulator overrides the communication, not by eliminating the signal, by flooding the brain with larger amounts of non-painful sensations that fool the brain into not paying attention to the pain sensation. After the trial period your physician removes the leads. Patients that receive significant relief have the choice to pursue permanent implantation of a more robust system by an orthopedic spine surgeon.