Interventional Pain Management
Test and Procedures
Spinal Cord Stimulation
Spinal cord stimulation (also referred to as neurostimulation) is a treatment for neck and back pain, usually administered when other attempts to relieve neck and/or back pain have failed. It should be considered when your medical professional believes that the patient would not benefit from a more conservative treatment plan or if further surgery would not help the afflicted’s condition. This procedure attempts to modify or block nerve activity, interfering with the pain signals that are being sent to the brain. This is attempted by implanting a device of four to eight electrodes in the body that transmits its own electrical current through the spinal cord. If successful, it provides the afflicted a substantial amount of pain relief.
Conditions Treated with Spinal Cord Stimulation
If you have experienced the following, spinal cord stimulation may be an appropriate treatment option for you:
- Failed back surgery syndrome
- Post-laminectomy nerve damage
- Cervical radiculitis
- Lumbar radiculitis
- Complex regional pain syndrome/Reflex sympathetic dystrophy
Trial Period is an Option
In order to help select the best candidates, there is a screening process to help determine whether spinal cord stimulation would be a helpful treatment for the patient. The trial period can help determine whether spinal cord stimulation provides an adequate amount of pain relief, as well as introduce the patient to the feelings and experience of the stimulation implant. DSP Health System offers the trial version of spinal cord stimulation to our patients.
For the trial period, a temporary wire is placed in the patient for a time period of up to a week. It is a relatively quick procedure, usually taking less than an hour to successfully implant the stimulator wire in the patient, and is performed under only local anesthesia. Your medical professional will use x-ray guidance to insert a needle into the epidural space, at which point electrodes will be sent through the introducer needle. The temporary stimulator wire is then attached via small stitches and a bandage.
If it successfully relieves pain in the patient, a permanent device will be inserted at a later date.
Disadvantages of Spinal Cord Stimulation
While this procedure can help many experience back and neck pain relief, it is not without its potential issues. For starters, it is not common for the procedure to provide complete relief. An implant is considered to be successfully working even it can only can cut the neck or back pain in half. Also, this procedure has a relatively low rate of achieving this success threshold. Only 50-60% of patients that have this procedure report reaching the aforementioned successful threshold of pain relief. Moreover, an uncommon but sometimes occurring issue is device-related complications with the implant where it can move in unintended ways. However, in recent years these are becoming less and less frequent as medical technology continues to evolve.
More About Spinal Cord Stimulation
While this treatment is considered permanent, the device is easily removed if complications do occur. It is normal for the patient to experience warm and/or tingly sensations following the procedure, although in the days immediately following the installation of the electrodes the patient might experience some soreness. It is essential that the patient communicates with their doctor about how their recovery is progressing and whether their pain is being sufficiently mitigated.