Spinal Cord Stimulator (SCS) therapy is a procedure for the treatment of many causes of chronic back pain. This revolutionary treatment works by blocking pain perception from traveling up through the spinal cord to the brain.  In the implant procedure, a small spinal stimulator device is placed near the spinal cord in the epidural space, and delivers low-level electrical impulses that interfere with the perception of pain, especially chronic nerve pain.


The syndromes most commonly treated with SCS include

  • Nerve Root Compression
  • Failed Back Surgery Syndrome
  • Spinal Stenosis
  • Degenerative Disk Disease
  • Sciatica
  • Complex Regional Pain Syndrome
  • Peripheral Neuropathy
  • Central Sensitization

Procedure

Spinal Cord Stimulation uses groundbreaking technology that works by introducing an electrical current into the epidural space near the source of chronic pain impulses. Under minimal sedation, your physician will administer a local anesthetic with a small needle to numb the skin at the area of the procedure. Your doctor will first insert a needle in the back into the epidural space. Placed through the needle is the trial SCS wire with electrical leads on its tip. The trial stimulator is taped to your back and connected to a stimulating device, and the patient typically wears it on the spine under close physician supervision for 5-7 days. If the trial successfully relieves your pain, you can undergo a permanent SCS device implant.

Benefits

The device is implanted near the area of pain and produces a low voltage current, which creates a sensation that blocks the brain’s ability to sense the previously perceived pain. The patient can adjust the intensity of the device, and can turn the system on and off as necessary to provide optimal pain relief.

Spinal cord stimulation improves back pain in patients with many different conditions, and is proven to be extremely effective in patients with failed back surgery syndrome. It is shown to reduce the level of pain as well as the amount of pain medication taken by patients.

Another benefit to SCS is the trial period offered with a temporary device. Only if you receive significant relief will you move on to permanent SCS therapy. For those that it does help, SCS is an innovative treatment that can bring significant relief and improve quality of life.

Risks

As expected with any minor surgical procedure, there is always a chance of side effects. In this particular procedure the risks are low, however it is important to know them. So an infection does not occur. it is important to keep it dry and clean while the incision is healing. If there is any drainage or redness at the site then you should be seen by your doctor. Other rare side effects may include bleeding, scar tissue deposition, electrode failure, inadequate pain surface area coverage, and nerve problems.

Outcome

The evidence for spinal cord stimulation in failed back surgery syndrome and complex regional pain syndrome is strong for short-term relief and moderate for long-term relief. Clinical studies reveal a success rate of over 60% among patients treated with SCS therapy. Spinal cord stimulation has shown to be very effective in reducing chronic pain from certain conditions, however this technique does not work for everyone.