Spinal Cord Stimulation for Chronic Back Pain

SCS is a good modality for patients that have exhausted all conservative and medical options for their arm or leg pain that is neuropathic in nature. If a patient has already tried medication, physical therapy and injections without any sustained relief, then this is worth considering. Patient will have to have an MRI of the spinal area where the lead will be located as well as a psychosocial evaluation before we will be able to proceed.

Spinal Cord Stimulation

St. Jude Medical Technology - Neurostimulation

What Is Neurostimulation?

Neurostimulation (also called spinal cord stimulation, or SCS) is a proven therapy that has been recommended by doctors to manage chronic pain and improve quality of life. Neurostimulation systems are approved or cleared by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the management of chronic pain in the back, neck, arms, or legs. They are also covered by many major health insurance plans, Medicare, and workers’ compensation programs.

Credit (required): Photo courtesy of Duke University

Benefits of neurostimulation may include:

A reduction in pain by 50 percent or greater.
A reduction or elimination in the use of pain medications.
Increased activity levels and an improved overall quality of life.

Neurostimulation, however, is not a cure for what is causing the pain and does not treat specific diseases. Instead, it is a therapy that's designed to mask pain by blocking pain signals before they reach the brain. It has been used to manage pain that comes from failed back surgery syndrome (FBSS) or post-laminectomy syndrome and other neuropathies. To find out if neurostimulation may be right for your pain, talk to your doctor.

How Does Neurostimulation Work?

Neurostimulation works by intercepting pain signals before they reach the brain. To do this, a small system is implanted within the body. This system, similar to a cardiac pacemaker, is used to replace pain with a different feeling. Some people describe this feeling as a gentle massaging sensation or, in some cases, simply the absence of pain.

Pain signals travel up the spinal cord to the brain.
A generator sends pulses to a lead (a thin wire).
The lead delivers these pulses to nerves along the spinal cord.
The pulses block the pain signals before they reach the brain.
The painful feeling is replaced with a more pleasant sensation.

Medtronic Medical Technology - Spinal Cord Therapy

What is Spinal Cord Stimulation (Neurostimulation Therapy)?

Spinal cord stimulation is delivered with a small spinal cord stimulator—similar to a pacemaker—that is implanted under the skin. The neurostimulator delivers mild electrical pulses to your spine, causing a tingling sensation in the area of your chronic pain.

How Spinal Cord Stimulation Works

Spinal cord stimulation provides pain relief by modifying the pain messages before they reach the brain. The neurostimulator sends out mild electrical pulses that reach the brain faster than the pain signal can arrive. In other words, it outsmarts your back and leg pain. Instead of feeling pain, you feel a tingling sensation.

You can adjust the strength and location of stimulation using a handheld programmer. For example, you can regulate different levels of stimulation at different times of the day or for various activities, such as walking, sleeping, or sitting.

Boston Scientific - Spinal Cord Stimulation Technology

With SCS therapy, a small implantable pulse generator (or IPG) and thin wires (leads) are placed in the body. The leads then deliver tiny pulses to the nerves that mask pain signals as they travel to the brain, producing a tingling sensation, which reduces the feeling of pain. Doctors call it "paresthesia." You call it relief.


Patient Stories

From Surviving to Living Again

Patient Story Surviving to LivingAfter decades of pain and a roller-coaster of failed surgeries, Nevro HF10 therapy delivers relief at last

For Gregory Fox, now 55, the back pain started more than 20 years ago. The cause was lumbar disc degeneration, but it was aggravated by stenosis (narrowing of the spinal canal) and the years Fox spent on the road as a drummer and a bus driver.

Spinal fusion surgery in 1999 brought him relief for a time, but by 2013, he had started to lose sensation from the waist down. The spinal fusion had started to disintegrate, and his spine was shifting. The numbness worsened to the point where Fox was unable to get out of bed.


Patient Story - Getting back to living

David Lemaster, one of the first two patients to receive Nevro HF10 therapy in North Carolina. He endured chronic pain for eight years before the implant. Today, he says he’s pain free.

‘Exceptional’ relief, without side effects

Nevro’s HF10 therapy is a device implanted near the spine that delivers high-frequency electrical signals to quiet nerves that contribute to chronic pain. The surgeon places electrical leads at the specific nerves that are causing the patient’s chronic pain and implants a separate battery pack to provide electrical current. The device can be adjusted or turned off via a remote control.


Related Articles:

Drivers and Risk Factors of Unplanned 30-Day Readmission Following Spinal Cord Stimulator

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