1809 Brenner Avenue, Suite 102, Salisbury, North Carolina 28144
Spinal cord stimulation is a procedure used to treat chronic pain. The procedure alleviates back pain, neck pain, arm pain, radicular leg pain, diabetic neuropathy, pain due to reflex sympathetic dystrophy, and pain due to causalgia. Patients whose chronic pain has not been receptive to other treatment methods such as fusions, injections, surgery, and decompression procedures often find that they can experience relief from spinal cord stimulation. Additionally, most patients who benefit from spinal cord stimulation suffer from pain that has continued even after the underlying cause was addressed.
During spinal cord stimulation, a small needle is inserted into the patient’s back and is used to guide one to three small wires, called leads, into the patient’s spine. To treat neck and arm pain, leads are placed in the cervical spine. To treat back and leg pain, leads are placed in the thoracic spine. An electric impulse generator is then implanted in the stomach or buttocks area. After surgery, the generator may be turned on, sending electrical impulses to the leads in the spinal cord, thus inhibiting the impulses sent by nerves that result in the sensation of pain. The patient controls when the generator is turned on and how strong the impulses are using a small computer that is roughly the size of a cell phone. A doctor at Carolina Spine and Hand works with the patient to help determine the strength, frequency, and type of impulses best suited to the patient’s lifestyle and needs.
Oftentimes, after having a spinal cord stimulator implanted, relief is immediate and pain may be completely eliminated or replaced by a tingling sensation that patients tend to prefer to the pain.
An advantage of spinal cord stimulation is that, unlike other procedures, it is reversible. Patients at Carolina Spine and Hand usually undergo a trial period of spinal cord stimulation in which the equipment is temporarily implanted in-office and used by the patient for five to six days. If the patient experiences pain relief and prefers the treatment, the equipment will then be implanted permanently. If the patient does not experience pain relief during the trial period, the equipment can be removed or turned off at no risk to the patient.