Treating chronic pain by using Spinal Cord Stimulation (SCS) is on the forefront of interventional pain management techniques. Sometimes called neuromodulation, SCS emits a electric impulse to relieve chronic pain of the back, arms and legs. This mild current disrupts transmission and perception of pain by the brain.
How is Spinal Cord Stimulation Performed?
First, a local anesthesia is applied and one or more insulated wire leads are inserted through an epidural needle or through a small incision into the space surrounding the spinal cord, called the epidural space. Electrodes at the end of the lead produce electrical pulses that stimulate the nerves, blocking pain signals. The patient is conscious throughout the procedure to give feedback to help determine where to place the stimulators. The lead is connected to an external trial stimulator, which will be used to approximately 1 week to determine if SCS will help the patient. The trial typically lasts around seven days.
If the patient determines that the amount of pain relief is acceptable, the system may be permanently implanted. At the end of the trial implantation, the lead is removed. For the permanent implantation, the patient is placed under sedation or general anesthesia. First, one or more permanent leads are inserted through an epidural needle or small incision into the predetermined location in the epidural space. Next, a small incision is created for the implantable pulse generator (IPG), in which the battery is positioned beneath the skin. It is most often implanted in the buttocks or abdomen. The lead is then connected to the IPG battery.
What should be expected?
The implant’s electrical impulses are programmed with an external control unit. The patient can use the external control unit to turn the system on or off and adjust the stimulation power level and switch between different programs. After surgery, patients may experience mild discomfort and swelling at the incision sites for several days.
If you need an evaluation or consultation or are interested in learning more about Spinal Cord Stimulation, please contact us at (201) 729-0001 and ask for one of our specialists. We offer weekday and weekend appointments. You can find us at our conveniently located clinics in West Orange, Aberdeen, and Lyndhurst.