It works by sending a mild electric current to your spinal cord through a device implanted under the skin. During spinal cord stimulation, current is transmitted through thin wires from a pulse generator. As soon as the SCS is activated, the nerves in the area where you experience pain are stimulated. The electrical pulses reduce pain because they modify and mask the pain signal before it reaches your brain.
The paresthesia sensation is created by replacing the pain feeling with a low-frequency current. Other SCS devices mask the pain using alternating bursts of high frequency and no tingling. The majority of devices allow for no paresthesia.
Pain is not eliminated by stimulation. A subtle change in perception occurs. Due to this, individuals experience varying degrees of pain relief. SCS is intended to reduce pain by 50 to 70%.
New Jersey’s leading spinal cord stimulator implant specialist, Dr. Ningning, can help you with a personalized treatment plan.
Small battery packs (the generators) and electrodes are used for spinal cord stimulation. A generator is typically located under the skin near the buttocks or abdomen, where electrodes are placed under the vertebrae (the epidural space). The electric impulses are sent by a remote control using spinal cord stimulators when patients experience pain. A separate circuitry and antenna are attached to the remote control.
Researchers do not fully understand spinal cord stimulation, but they now know that it has the potential to affect multiple muscles directly, as well as alter how the brain perceives pain.
When nonsurgical pain treatment options fail to provide sufficient relief, spinal cord stimulation is used most often. Different types of chronic pain can be treated or managed with spinal cord stimulators, including:
The stimulation of the spinal cord can improve sleep quality while reducing the need for pain medicines. In addition, other pain management methods such as medication, exercise, physical therapy and relaxation are often used.
The doctor will check to see whether spinal cord stimulation is right for you – and whether it is likely to relieve you significantly from chronic pain. An imaging test and a psychological evaluation are likely to be ordered by your pain specialist to make this recommendation. The insurance companies are sometimes required to perform psychological screenings to ensure depression or anxiety are not contributing to your pain.
Each patient benefits from spinal cord stimulation differently, but generally, those who benefit from it most are those who:
There are three main types of spinal cord stimulators:
Traditionally, spinal code stimulators are powered by batteries. During an operation, a battery is implanted into the spine. If the battery runs out, a new surgery is necessary. Because it has a lower electrical output, it may be an option for people suffering only from pain in one body part.
IPGs that can be recharged without undergoing further surgery operate similarly to conventional IPGs. These simulators can produce more electricity since their energy source is rechargeable. The electrical signal is stronger and may reach a greater distance to relieve hip pain or back pain.
The battery used in radiofrequency stimulators is external to the body. In modern times, newer designs and technology have made this stimulator less viable. It, too, is powered by a rechargeable battery, and because of its power, it may be more effective for patients with pain in their lower back or legs.
Earlier on in the course of a chronic illness, SCS is more effective than conventional treatments.
Chronic pain may be relieved with SCS if:
It takes approximately one to two hours for the surgery to be completed.
A light anesthetic will be administered to you while you lie on the table. After that, the leads and generator will be placed on your back and buttock.
Fluoroscopy (an X-ray) is used to insert electrode leads. It’s a simple procedure that involves cutting a small spot at your midline and exposing the bony vertebra on your back.
During a laminotomy, a portion of bone is removed from the arches to create room for leads to be placed. The leads are placed over the spinal cord in the epidural space and are sutured in place. There is no direct contact with the spinal cord.
In some cases, the doctor may wake you up to test how well the stimulation covers the pain area when using an SCS device. However, modern SCS devices can position their leads based on anatomical evidence or electrical monitoring. At the end of the surgery, the pulse generator settings obtained in the trial will determine how the pain is managed, so your feedback will be vital to ensure the best pain relief.
A lead implanted during a clinical trial may not need to be repositioned or replaced in some cases if it is perfectly positioned.
The lead electrodes are inserted into the buttock and replaced. The wire is then inserted under the skin to implant the generator.
It is performed under the waistline by making a small incision. The surgical procedure involves creating a pocket for the generator underneath the skin. Wires of the pulse generator are connected to the pocket. Using the skin pocket, the pulse generator is placed correctly.
Sutures and skin glue are used to close the incisions.