FAQ’s on Spinal Cord Stimulator
What is a Spinal Cord Stimulator?
A Spinal Cord Stimulator Implant is a small device that generates electrical pulses and is implanted in the back with electrodes around the spinal cord. The device sends electrical impulses to the spine in order to interrupt the pain signals from the nerves that are the source of pain for the patient. This device can provide relief to those patients with chronic pain that is otherwise not treatable by surgery.
For many patients, implantation is suggested only after surgery has been tried and failed. A stimulator is a last resort option available for patients that are no longer eligible for surgical treatment.
What can be gained by patients receiving a Spinal Cord Stimulator Implant? Chronic pain can be debilitating and interfere with a patients’ quality of life. With a Spinal Cord Stimulator Implant the patient is able to reduce his or her symptomatic pains and the reliance on opiates. It is important to note that this device cannot treat the source of pain, but is simply a tool to help mask symptoms.
How is the Spinal Cord Stimulator Implant procedure performed?
The procedure will typically begin with the implantation of the percutaneous stimulator to determine if the procedure is effective for the patient. It provides close to the same effect to the patient, and is primarily used to test if a full implantation will be worth the cost. Since the final implanted device costs around $15,000, both the patients and insurance companies want to ensure it will work.
If the patient responds well to the treatment, a permanent pulse generator will be implanted beneath the abdominal skin or in the area above the buttocks.
Wire leads to the electrodes will pass around the side, also under the skin, to the terminal ends implanted in the spinal canal. The device is implanted with the patient under a sedative and with a local anesthetic as an outpatient procedure.
What risk or side effects are possible with Spinal Cord Stimulator Implants?
There are a number of complications that can arise with this procedure, but many of these are simply small hindrances and are not life-threatening.
Since this is a spinal surgery, there are risks involved, including fibrosis (scar tissue) buildup around the electrode, gradually reduced effectiveness, pain moving out of the electrode area, infection, equipment failure/breakage, leaking spinal fluid, headaches, and bladder problems. Also, patients with the implant may not have MRI procedures and will be required to have follow-up surgeries to change the battery every few years.
What conditions are treatable with Spinal Cord Stimulator Implants?
The Spinal Cord Stimulator Implant procedure is usually beneficial to patients that suffer chronic pain from failed back surgery syndrome, patients with severe pain from a damaged nerve, or patients that suffer from complex regional pain syndrome. A Spinal Cord Stimulator Implant may also be used as an investigational therapy for patients with paraplegia, intractable angina, or multiple sclerosis.
There are additional indications coming into mainstream use, such as for intractable abominal or pelvic pain.
How successful are Spinal Cord Stimulator Implants for the relief of pain?
Research shows that over 60% of patients that receive a Spinal Cord Stimulator Implant benefit with pain relief. But it also shows that the effectiveness declines gradually as the body becomes accustomed to the device, reducing its effectiveness.
Further, success is widely dependent upon the cause of pain. It works better for leg pain than back pain, but both receive relief usually.
The pain management doctors at Colorado Pain are experts in spinal cord stimulator implants. With three locations in and around Denver, treatment is readily available.
Call Colorado Pain today at (720) 306-9575 today!