What is spinal cord stimulation?

For people with chronic back and neck pain, a treatment called spinal cord stimulation (SCS) has become a common method used to help with pain. It’s so effective that patients often reduce or eliminate their need for pain medications, and are able to function much like they did prior to the spinal pain.

How does spinal cord stimulation work?

As with any procedure, it’s best to know what’s involved first. A small wire, or “lead”, is surgically implanted under the skin above the spinal cord. This wire is connected to a power source, which sends low-level electrical signals to the spinal cord or specific nerves. This blocks pain signals from reaching the brain. Using a remote control, the patient can control and adjust the signals as needed. There are different systems available depending on what patients need, and those options can be discussed with your doctor.

What spinal problems are treatable with SCS?

While SCS works well at treating back pain from degenerative disc disease, spinal stenosis, or unsuccessful back surgery, it works best for neuropathic pain from pinched or injured nerves. It can be an option for other conditions such as radiculopathy (pain that radiates down the arm or leg), pain following back surgery, complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS), or even sciatica.

What makes you a good candidate?

  • Surgery is not likely to improve the condition
  • Other treatments have not been successful
  • A patient who has no untreated drug addiction
  • A patient who has had a psychological evaluation
  • A patient does not have a pacemaker or other devices that would interfere with the spinal cord stimulator

Are there risks involved?

As with any surgical procedure, there is some risk involved, but most patients who undergo spinal cord stimulation find great success from this treatment, and the stimulation itself is described as a mild tingling sensation. If you are suffering from back pain and other treatments have not brought relief, give us a call and set up an appointment to learn if Spinal Cord Stimulation is a good option for you.