SPINAL CORD STIMULATOR SURGERY AND HOW IT ADDRESSES CHRONIC PAIN

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SPINAL CORD STIMULATOR SURGERY AND HOW IT ADDRESSES CHRONIC PAIN
5 Min Read

There’s a plethora of pain management options offered for chronic pain patients. Spinal cord stimulation can decrease reliance on other pain relief treatments.

Living with chronic pain is exactly that, painful. Based on an analysis of data from the NHIS, just over 20% of American adults suffer from some kind of chronic pain. Their ability to work and complete everyday tasks, in addition to being socially limited, greatly affects daily quality of life.

Understanding what option is best for you can be the difference between short term and longer term relief. If you find yourself in a position where a variety of conservative and nonconservative therapies have failed, spinal cord stimulation may be your best option.

The three main conditions that spinal cord stimulator surgery treats are:

  1. Chronic regional pain syndrome
  2. Postlaminectomy syndrome (failed spine surgery)
  3. Painful diabetic peripheral neuropathy

WHAT IS A SPINAL CORD STIMULATOR?

An implanted medical device that sends electrical energy near the spinal cord, in different patterns, to interrupt pain pathways. The battery that is placed in the body is approximately the size of an oreo cookie. Coming out of the battery, depending on the company, are one to four cords (called leads) that range between 25cm to 55cm. At the end of the lead are contacts, which sit in the epidural space.

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THE SURGERY

Spinal cord stimulator surgery involves taking the spinal cord stimulator battery and implanting it under the skin above the buttock, near the waistline, or in the abdomen. The leads are then surgically placed in the epidural space. Its purpose is to block painful nerve pathways between the brain and the rest of the body. Different electrical waveforms and programs are used to achieve relief based on patient diagnoses. NEVRO is the only medical device company that currently offers a frequency of 10 kilohertz; this is unique in that the device will be working and the only thing you will feel is pain relief.

The first step to qualify for spinal cord stimulator surgery is having the patient pass a behavioral health screening-evaluation; as required by insurance. Once the patient has passed, a spinal cord stimulator trial is performed; the leads are placed on the inside of the body and the battery on the outside of the body. I’ll tell patients that this allows you to “try before you buy.” Giving them the opportunity to see if implanting would be beneficial. After a week, the wire is pulled out and relief is documented; recovery is a few days.

Finally, if the trial is successful, the patient can have the implant done. The surgery is then scheduled, often as a same-day, elective out-patient surgery. Once the full implant is inserted, it takes 6 weeks for the leads to officially scar down allowing for resumption of normal activity.

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SPINAL CORD STIMULATOR MANAGES PAIN

Typically patients see immediate relief upon implantation. The battery lasts about 5-15 years and can be replaced if needed. As a direct result of this device and procedure, patients use less pain medication, have fewer injections, and are able to work and enjoy more social activities. Daily chores are less burdensome and patients can increase their physical movements. What is also reassuring is that spinal cord stimulators have been around for 50 years, are FDA approved, and covered by most insurance companies.

Still have questions? Wondering if you qualify for spinal cord stimulator surgery? In pain? Michigan Pain Consultants can help. To book an appointment CLICK HERE or call 800-281-3237 today.