Many patients are experiencing severe pain due to complications in their spinal cord. Fortunately, care providers have developed a way for these patients to get the relief they need and improve their quality of life. Spinal cord stimulation is a technique that care providers implement after other conventional treatments fail to provide relief. This treatment involves specific stages, including trial and implantation of the spinal cord stimulator. To maximize results, treating physicians, including William L Yancey MD, may complement this pain relief treatment with other pain management options.

What are the parts of a spinal cord stimulator?

The best way to understand how a spinal cord stimulator works to relieve pain is to appreciate the mechanical parts that make up this device and how they contribute to the overall function of the spinal cord stimulator. The main features of a spinal cord stimulator are:

  • Thin wires: These are the electrodes. Your care provider will pace these parts in the space between the spinal cord and the vertebrae.
  • Pacemaker: Usually, the pacemaker is a battery pack and is the device’s generator. Your doctor will place this part under your skin near the buttocks or abdomen.

Your doctor will give you a remote control. Whenever you are in pain, you press a button on the remote, and electrical impulses will travel from the pacemaker to the electrodes and thus help you experience relief. Instead of feeling pain, you will feel paresthesia, a tingling feeling. However, the tingling, which replaces the pain, may be uncomfortable to some patients. Luckily, specific spinal cord stimulators offer sub-perception stimulation that patients cannot feel.

What conditions can spinal cord stimulation provide pain relief?

If you have chronic pain, the first line of treatment should include conservative non-surgical treatments like medications and physical therapy. However, patients with severe symptoms may need spinal cord stimulation to manage their pain. Some of the conditions that doctors recommend spinal cord stimulation for include:

  • Back pain, especially that which persists post-surgery.
  • Arachnoid inflammation also known as arachnoiditis.
  • Spinal cord injury
  • Complex regional pain syndrome.
  • Peripheral vascular disease.

Types of spinal cord stimulators

Spinal cord stimulators can be classified into three types:

  • Battery-operated: This implantable pulse generator (IPG) has a lower electrical output.
  • Rechargeable IPG: You can charge the battery without needing a follow-up surgery.
  • Radiofrequency stimulator: These simulators are not prevalent. Radiofrequency stimulators use batteries outside the body.

Should you get a spinal cord stimulator?

Although most patients are desperate for effective ways to manage their pain, not all of them are candidates for spinal cord stimulation. You need to seek professional advice to determine if the treatment is ideal for your condition. There are specific tests that your treating physician should perform to ensure that you do not have any psychiatric disorders that might affect the efficacy of the treatment. If you want to eliminate your pain using spinal cord stimulation successfully, you need to find a surgeon with enough skill in implanting the device. Call Yancey Pain & Spine to learn more about how spinal cord stimulation helps in relieving chronic pain and improving the quality of life and sleep for patients.