Spinal Cord Stimulation uses mild electric pulses, delivered through a device, to relieve chronic pain. The electricity blocks the nerve impulses that make you feel pain. When other treatments don’t give you enough pain relief, our doctors might suggest that you try this option. Stimulation reduces or eliminates the need for pain medication and is helpful for those who are not surgical candidates or who had a failed surgery.
During spinal cord stimulation, the device blocks pain by sending electrical pulses to the nerves in the spine in a process called neurostimulation. The electrodes are placed near the spinal cord and vertebra. The advantage of these symptoms is to reduce the amount of pain so that less oral pain medication is needed.
What Conditions Are Treated by Spinal Cord Stimulators?
Spinal cord Stimulators are used for the following pain syndromes:
- Back pain that does not improve after surgery
- Pain after surgery
- Arachnoiditis (painful inflammation of the arachnoid, a thin membrane that covers the brain and spinal cord)
- Heart pain or angina untreatable by other means
- Nerve-related pain such as severe diabetic neuropathy and cancer-related neuropathy from radiation or chemotherapy
- Peripheral vascular disease where the extremities do not get enough blood and oxygen due to blockage
- Complex regional pain syndrome
- Pain after an amputation
- Visceral (deep) abdominal pain and perineal pain
There are several types of spinal cord stimulators. The most common have a pulse generator that acts like a battery, which is rechargeable through the skin, but some are fully implanted and do not require recharging. However, they need to be replaced from time to time. Some units depend on radiofrequency to power the device. In these types, an antenna and transmitter are outside of the body, and the receiver is placed inside.