Using Stimulation to Provide Long-Term Pain Relief

Spinal cord stimulation is a process that works similar to a pain pacemaker, where one or more thin wires are placed near the spine and connected to an energy source. These wires provide electrical impulses to act as pain scramblers to help nerves quiet down painful signals between the spinal cord and the brain. Yancey Pain & Spine provides Spinal cord stimulation in The Woodlands to improve patient’s well-being by providing long-term relief from chronic pain.

What to expect during the treatment

First, a trial procedure is performed, which involves placing small wires using small needles through the skin. This procedure is very similar to an epidural injection, but instead of your doctor placing medicine, the thin wires, otherwise known as leeds, are placed in the epidural area.

Spinal cord stimulation trial

This procedure is done in outpatient surgery and only under sedation.  Before placing a permanent implant, there is a trial period where you go home and resume your daily activities. This trial period usually lasts about a week. You will get a remote control to turn the device on and off and to adjust the therapy. If it helps your pain, then you are a candidate for the spinal cord implant procedure.

Benefits of the treatment

The benefits of having a spinal cord stimulator are as follows:

  • It is a pain that offers pain relief for many patients when nothing else has given long-term benefits.
  • It has a proven long-term track record as effective and safe: The first successful spinal cord stimulation was in 1967.
  • It provides you with a trial period to see if you love the therapy and if it is suitable for you.
  • The stimulation can be a threshold that means that you can feel it working or a sub-threshold where it delivers energy, but you do not feel the stimulation.
  • Every person is different, and different people have different preferences, in this regard, it is an extremely customizable therapy. With a wide array of pain coverage patterns, it is an extremely personalized therapy to cover your painful areas that need it most.
  • Because it is a minimally invasive outpatient surgery, it has a decreased recovery time unlike many other spine surgeries or reoperations.
  • Insurance companies cover this procedure because it has a proven track record.

Risks associated with the procedure

The medical success rate of spinal cord stimulation procedure is about 60-65% on patients. However, it can be brought up to 90% if your medical provider makes a careful selection of patients. The procedure risks are similar to that of any other spinal procedure, including infection, bleeding, nerve damage, and paralysis. For bleeding, your doctor will ask you to stop taking certain medications before the procedure. Your doctor will ensure to use sterile equipment and administer antibiotics during the procedure and after to prevent infection. Spinal cord stimulation involves the use of extra guidance to reduce the risk of nerve damage and paralysis.

One of the side effects of long-term morphine pain relief medicines is that patients develop tolerance, therefore, requiring an increase in the dosage of these medicines. Unfortunately, with increasing dosages, there are increasing side effects of these medicines.

Spinal cord stimulation should be considered by anyone suffering from chronic intractable pain, including the trunk’s pain, lower back, arms, and legs, which is not responding to other conservative pain therapies. Patients with failed back surgery syndrome, chronic pain syndrome, and complex regional pain syndrome can also benefit from the procedure. Schedule an appointment with Yancey Pain & Surgery to see if the spinal cord stimulator is the right choice for you.

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