Integrated Pain Management


What is a Spinal Cord Stimulator: A Comprehensive Guide by Integrated Pain Management

Suppose you are considering whether or not to get a Spinal Cord Stimulator implanted.In that case, you might as well stop wasting time.The truth is that anyone who needs this device could benefit from it, so ask yourself what’s stopping you from getting a Spinal Cord Stimulator.

Quite frankly, if you don’t take the plunge and get an SCS system soon, then quite simply – you won’t even know what relief truly feels like.So keep reading to learn more about these devices and why they should become part of your life today.

What Is A Spinal Cord Stimulator?

A spinal cord stimulator (SCS) is a medical device that delivers low-voltage electrical stimulation to the spinal cord to relieve chronic pain.

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It works by sending electrical currents through tiny electrodes placed in or around the nerve fibers of the spinal cord, which can help reset nerve pathways and block pain signals from reaching the brain.

How does a spinal cord stimulator treat pain?

A spinal cord stimulator sends low-voltage electrical pulses through tiny electrodes placed in or around the nerve fibers of the spinal cord. The electrical stimulation interrupts pain signals sent from the affected area to the brain, decreasing pain perception.

The stimulation can also activate natural pain-relieving chemicals such as endorphins and serotonin, which helps to reduce pain. In addition, the electrical stimulation can help reset nerve pathways in the spinal cord, allowing them to function more normally.

What is spinal cord stimulation used for?

Spinal cord stimulation is used to help manage chronic pain, such as neuropathic pain caused by damage or dysfunction of the nerves. It can also help reduce spasticity, or muscle stiffness, in conditions such as multiple sclerosis and spinal cord injuries.

In addition, SCS may help relieve post-operative pain, phantom limb pain, and chronic migraine. It can also be used to treat neurogenic bladder dysfunction associated with trauma or disease of the spinal cord.

Who performs the procedure?

A trained and certified specialist, such as a pain management doctor or anesthesiologist, typically performs the procedure for a spinal cord stimulator. These doctors have extensive experience using invasive and non-invasive treatments for chronic pain.

They will conduct an initial consultation to determine if SCS is an appropriate treatment option, including a medical history and physical exam. Suppose the patient is deemed a good candidate for SCS. In that case, they will work with them to create an individualized treatment plan tailored to their specific needs.

Who should get a spinal cord stimulator?

A spinal cord stimulator may be right if you suffer from chronic pain that hasn’t responded to other treatments. Before deciding, it is important to discuss the procedure with your doctor and understand the potential risks and benefits associated with SCS.

Additionally, it is important to find a qualified specialist who has experience using SCS and is familiar with your medical history.

Spinal Cord Stimulator Types

The conventional implantable pulse generator

(IPG) – This type of SCS is surgically implanted under the skin and consists of a battery-powered generator, electrodes, and leads. Conventional IPGs have been used for many years and are considered safe and effective.

The rechargeable implantable pulse generator

(IPG) – The rechargeable IPG is similar to the conventional IPG in that it has a battery-powered generator, electrodes, and leads. It offers the added advantage of not needing to replace or charge the device’s batteries as often.

Radiofrequency stimulator

Radiofrequency stimulator: This type of SCS is non-invasive and uses radiofrequency waves to deliver stimulation. It works by transmitting an electromagnetic field into the body, stimulating the spine’s nerves.

Spinal Cord Stimulator Surgery

The procedure for a spinal cord stimulator is typically performed as an outpatient procedure under local anesthesia. During the procedure, the surgeon will make a small incision in the lower back and place electrodes around or near the affected nerves.

The device will then be connected to a generator, programmed to deliver stimulation at different levels and frequencies.After the procedure, patients may experience some soreness at the incision site. However, most patients can resume normal activities on the same day or within a few days.

In conclusion, spinal cord stimulation (SCS) is an effective and safe treatment option for chronic pain patients.

Spinal Cord Stimulator Trial

For those considering SCS, a trial period is recommended so that patients can experience the effects of the device and decide if it’s the right treatment option for them.

During this trial period, electrodes are placed over or near the affected nerves and connected to an external generator.This allows patients to adjust stimulation settings to find an optimal level of relief. After the trial period, a permanent implantable pulse generator (IPG) can be surgically placed if desired.

Before deciding, it is important to speak with your doctor about the risks and benefits associated with SCS. Only after thorough consultation should you choose this treatment option for chronic pain.

Spinal Cord Stimulator Implantation

Once a decision has been made to proceed with SCS, the implantation procedure is typically performed under local anesthesia.During surgery, the electrodes are inserted into the epidural space and connected to an internal pulse generator (IPG) that will be surgically implanted in the abdomen or buttock area.

Recovery from Spinal Cord Stimulator Implant

Most patients can resume normal activities the same day or within a few days after the SCS implant procedure.It is important to take it easy and follow the doctor’s orders during recovery, including avoiding strenuous activities and heavy lifting.

Spinal Cord Stimulator Complications

Like any medical procedure, SCS is not without risks. Possible complications can include infection, inflammation, and nerve damage.Discussing these potential risks with your doctor before deciding on SCS treatment is important.In conclusion, spinal cord stimulation (SCS) is an effective and safe treatment option for chronic pain patients.

FAQs About Spinal Cord Stimulators

What exactly does a spinal cord stimulator do?

A spinal cord stimulator is a medical device implanted in the body to help relieve chronic pain. It consists of an electrical pulse generator (EPG) and leads. The EPG sends electrical signals through the leads, inserted into the spinal cord or epidural space to block nerve impulses from reaching the brain, thus relieving chronic pain.

Is a spinal cord stimulator a major surgery?

No, a spinal cord stimulator is a minor outpatient procedure. A surgeon will implant the electrical pulse generator (EPG) during the procedure, which leads into the patient’s back. This is done under local anesthesia using X-ray guidance to ensure accurate placement of the device.

How painful is spinal cord stimulator surgery?

Spinal cord stimulator surgery is generally regarded as minimally invasive and relatively painless. The entire procedure typically takes about 2-3 hours, and patients generally report feeling only mild or moderate discomfort. Generally speaking, the placement of the EPG and leads is done using a local anesthetic, which helps improve patient comfort during the procedure. In addition, the patient may be given a sedative to help keep them relaxed and comfortable throughout the procedure.

What qualifies you for a spinal cord stimulator?

Patients must typically meet certain criteria to be eligible for a spinal cord stimulator. This includes having a chronic pain diagnosis that does not respond to traditional treatments such as medications or physical therapy. Patients must also have had a trial period with an implanted stimulator, during which the patient and doctor can determine if it is an effective treatment for their condition.

Can I have X-rays and CT scans with a spinal cord stimulator?

Yes, it is possible to have X-rays and CT scans with a spinal cord stimulator. However, it is important that you inform your doctor if you have the device implanted before having any type of imaging test. This is because the high-energy radiation used during these tests can interfere with the function of your spinal cord stimulator.

Are spinal cord stimulators MRI-compatible?

Spinal cord stimulators are not typically MRI-compatible, as the strong magnetic fields generated by an MRI can interfere with the electrical signals sent from a spinal cord stimulator. The electrical pulses may be distorted or blocked and could potentially cause harm to the patient. Some newer, more advanced spinal cord stimulators have been designed to be MRI-compatible, so it is important to speak with your doctor to determine if this type of device might be an option for you.

Will my spinal cord stimulator set off airport security?

No, your spinal cord stimulator should not set off airport security. The device is small and does not contain metal components that metal detectors can detect. However, informing the TSA agent of any medical devices you may have implanted before going through airport security is always a good idea.

Can I drive with a spinal cord stimulator?

Yes, it is generally safe to drive with a spinal cord stimulator. However, as with any medical device, one should consult their doctor or healthcare provider to ensure that the device is functioning properly and does not pose a risk while driving.

Can I swim with a spinal cord stimulator?

Yes, although it is always important to check with your doctor first. Spinal cord stimulators are generally waterproof so that they can be submerged in water up to a certain depth. However, the actual depth limit will depend on your device type, and it is best to consult your doctor.

Can a spinal cord stimulator be removed?

Yes, a spinal cord stimulator can be removed. Depending on the type of spinal cord stimulator implanted, the device may need to be surgically removed or simply require a device exchange. Surgical removal requires an incision in the back to access and remove the device. It leads while device exchange only requires replacing the old device with a new one. Again, discussing the removal process with your doctor before proceeding is important.

Is Spinal Cord Stimulator Surgery Safe?

Spinal cord stimulator surgery carries some risks, like any medical procedure, but it’s generally considered safe. Complications are rare and can include infection, bleeding, and lead displacement. However, choosing a reputable and experienced provider, like Integrated Pain Management, can minimize these risks.

At Integrated Pain Management, we’re committed to helping our patients regain control over their well-being. We understand the impact of chronic pain on the quality of life and believe in a personalized approach to pain management. With our team’s expertise and the advanced treatment options available, including the spinal cord stimulator, we’re here to help you on your journey to a pain-free life.

For more information or to schedule a consultation, reach out to us at (312)