People whose back or neck pain has not been relieved by back surgery or other treatments may have another option to consider: spinal cord stimulation.
Around the world, some 14,000 patients undergo spinal cord stimulator implants each year. Spinal cord stimulation (SCS) delivers mild electrical stimulation to nerves along the spinal column, modifying or blocking nerve activity in a non-medicinal way to minimize the sensation of pain reaching the brain.
Spinal cord stimulation was first used to treat pain in 1967. Spinal cord stimulation was approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1989 to relieve pain from nerve damage in the trunk, arms, or legs, and now accounts for about 90 percent of all neuromodulation treatments. That number is expected to grow to manage chronic disease states as the population ages and as spinal cord stimulation is expanded to treat other diseases.
Spinal cord stimulation, also called neurostimulation, directs mild electrical pulses to interfere with pain messages reaching the brain. A small device implanted near the spine generates these pulses. The implanted generator used in spinal cord stimulation has similarities to a cardiac pacemaker, leading some to call the device a pacemaker for pain.
Growing Interest in Spinal Cord Stimulation
Spinal cord stimulation has been used for decades, and is being recommended for an increasing number of conditions. Failed back surgery syndrome, cervical and lumbar radiculitis, neuropathy, and complex regional pain syndrome are some conditions that may be helped by the therapy.
Smaller devices have made implantation less invasive, and innovations—such as devices that are compatible with magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)—have expanded the number of people likely to consider the therapy.
In addition, nationwide efforts to reduce reliance on opioid pain medications are bringing renewed interest to a range of pain-relief treatments that do not involve medications—including spinal cord stimulation.
Finding a doctor with experience is important in the case of spinal cord stimulation, as more experience generally leads to greater expertise. Also, spinal cord stimulation is a rapidly changing field of medicine, with new devices arriving frequently on the market. A specialist with experience in the procedure is likely to be more adept and up-to-date on the latest techniques and devices.
For more information on spinal cord stimulation contact Comprehensive Pain Management in Franklin, MA.