Spinal Cord Stimulator: What You Should Know

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For anyone who has suffered the burdens of chronic pain, you understand it can consume and limit your life. Pain takes its toll on you physically and mentally everyday. This often turns you from a participant to a spectator in your own life. However, there are options available to you so you don’t have to suffer chronic, unrelenting, and unbearable pain. If this sounds like you, you may need a spinal cord stimulator.

The following video explores the benefits of SCS and is presented by Dr. Shelly Sharma of Metropolitan Pain Consultants:

Neurostimulation (Spinal Cord Stimulator):

Doctors have used spinal cord stimulators (SCS), also called neurostimulators, since 1967. While SCS treats a number of conditions including movement disorders like Parkinson’s, they primarily manage chronic pain in the back, neck, arms, and legs. This pain may be caused by injury or may be due to surgery. Even if you currently have an old model spinal cord stimulator, new advances in technology can really help relieve your ongoing pain.

Many patients continue on with an outdated SCS years after it stopped working. When asked why they never had their stimulator removed, they typically respond with “I don’t know” or “it’s not bothering me.” The problem with the latter answer is if its not working, then there’s no point to keeping it in. It may not be bothering you, but it’s certainly not helping you either. A new SCS won’t bother you and it will offer you pain relief.

Neuropathic Pain:

If you are in need of a spinal cord stimulator, it’s probably because you suffer from some sort of neuropathic pain. While this may come from an injury to the spinal cord and peripheral nerves, it may also come from spinal surgery.

Some patients report stabbing, cutting, or piercing pain. However, it is typically a burning, shooting, stinging, or tingling “pins and needles” type of sensation.

Neuropathic pain is inconsistent and occurs in waves over days, weeks, or months after initial injury. It commonly occurs in the legs, back, feet, thighs, and toes. Some patients experience pain in their buttocks, hips, upper back, arms, hands, abdomen, and neck.


St. Jude’s BurstDR stimulation is a new form of spinal cord stimulator. Their doctors, by understanding how the brain copes with pain, “created a new therapy that works by mimicking natural patterns found in the brain.¹” This new form of therapy allows doctors to address both “physical pain and the way it affects you emotionally.” BurstDR is responsible for patients living pain free and giving them the ability to reclaim their life.

How BurstDR Stimulation Works:

When we feel pain, it is because our nerves are sending pain signals to our brain to indicate something is wrong. BurstDR stimulation reduces pain by altering pain signals at they travel to the brain. St. Jude has created a helpful video that simulates how BurstDR works.

The following is a basic understanding of how BurstDR works:

  • First, pain signals travel up the spinal cord to the brain
  • One of our generators, which is similar to a cardiac pacemaker, sends BurstDR pulses to a lead
  • Signals reach the lead, which then delivers pulses to nerves along the spinal cord
  • Pulses modify the way our brain perceives pain signals – leading to potential physical pain relief as well as relief from no longer suffering

BurstDR Versus Traditional Spinal Cord Stimulator:

Clinical trials show when compared to traditional forms of spinal cord stimulators, BurstDR provides superior pain relief.²  It also offers the ability to “reduce or eliminate the tingling sensation felt with traditional neurostimulation.”

Similarly, among patients studied, BurstDR stimulation was preferred to traditional stimulators.¹ ² It was also shown to improve patients’ ability to perform everyday activities while reducing the emotional suffering associated with pain.

Is BurstDR Right for Me:

To find out for certain if BurstDR stimulation is the right option for you, St. Jude offers a temporary system – typically lasting three to five days. Before committing to an implanted system, some patients prefer to see how the external generator will help with their pain.

During the evaluation period, patients should assess the following:

  • Does it provide adequate pain relief?
  • Has my ability to perform daily activities improved?
  • Does it improve my sleeping habits?

Continued Reading:

Our staff at Metropolitan Pain Consultants looks forward to hearing from you. You can contact us at (201) 729-0001. We offer weekday and weekend appointments. Our conveniently located clinics can be found in West OrangeAberdeenClifton, and Lyndhurst.

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