Spinal Cord Stimulation for Back and Extremity Pain

Sometimes, all attempts at treating back and extremity pain- from the minimally-invasive to the maximally-invasive, from physical therapy to spine surgery- can be exhausted with negligible positive results for the patient. Fortunately, even after that happens, there is another technique that has proved effective for people who have not previously had any luck. This technique is called spinal cord stimulation.

Spinal cord stimulation involves implanting a generator and a number of leads, or electrical wires. Once implanted, the generator, at the command of the patient, produces an electrical current that travels through the leads, blocking pain signals to the brain. The staff at Preferred Pain Management trains patients on how to used the spinal cord stimulator at varying intensities, in order to use the equipment optimally and achieve the greatest possible pain relief.

One unique benefit of spinal cord stimulation is that the device can be temporarily implanted to determine whether or not the patient will derive any benefits from the system. If the patient finds that spinal cord stimulation is ineffective for them, then the device can be removed without exacting any long-term damage. If, on the other hand, the patient obtains marked pain relief from the stimulator, then the temporary device is removed and a more permanent stimulator is implanted.

There is a wide variety of types of spinal cord stimulators, so the patient has options when determining what is best for them, given their particular needs and condition.

Though the basic concept of spinal cord stimulation is similar to another stimulation technique, called transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS), there are a few major differences. First, with TENS, the stimulators remain on the skin, whereas with spinal cord stimulation, the stimulators are implanted within the body. Additionally, spinal cord stimulation operates primarily on the spine, whereas TENS deals more with the nerves and only part of the spine.

Side effects and outcomes are unique to each patient and will be discussed before any treatment options are prescribed.