Back pains are becoming more and more common in modern day. The pains are brought on by different causes but overall they affect the performance and well-being of the people affected. Modern medicine has however had success in reducing the back pains to a bearable level with spinal cord stimulators. This stimulation releases mild electric impulses that block the nerves hence reducing the pain.
The stimulators were approved by the FDA in 1989 and has shown pain reduction by around 70% in the patients who qualify for the spinal cord stimulation. They are able to participate in most normal activities and the intake of pain medication is significantly reduced.
Before the actual stimulators are put in place, trial electrodes need to be connected to determine the effectiveness.
First, the patient is put under local anesthesia to numb the skin where the lead wires will be placed. The wires are then stretched to the point just above the spinal cord. A small generator the size of a mobile phone is connected to the wires. It acts as a carrier and control panel for the electric impulses to be released.
If the trial stimulator works as expected, the patient then qualifies for a permanent generator. The procedure is slightly different but still allows the patient to participate in day-to-day activities after the minor surgery.
Common types of electrical stimulation
Ideally, neurostimulation works by being placed at the source of chronic pain. The stimulators then release a small current that in turn causes a pleasant sensation to the body. This then blocks the pain that had initially been received. There are two common types of electrical stimulation used to treat chronic back pains:
Spinal cord stimulation: In this procedure, the lead wires are inserted with the help of a needle near the spinal column. The current generator is then attached through a small incision above the buttocks or the abdomen.
Peripheral nerve field stimulation: This method is very similar to the spinal cord stimulation but in this case, the lead wires are placed just above the nerve endings from which the pain emanates.
Both methods are equally effective in pain relief and the current can be controlled with the help of a simple remote to help reduce or increase the current levels. Originally, the physician sets the current flow but the patient is able to adjust it accordingly.
Who benefits most from SCS?
Spinal cord stimulators are used to control chronic back pains but they do not eliminate the source of the back pains completely. There are however different cases where the patients benefit the most from this treatment.
• Failed back surgeries that have been done in the past to alleviate the back pains but have not worked.
• Causalgia- chronic back pains with burning sensations caused by nerve injuries
• Arachnoiditis- inflammation and scarring caused by damaged meninges which protect the spinal cord nerves
• Peripheral neuropathy- persistent pain in the legs caused by nerves dying off
These are just some of the common causes of severe back pains but a visit to the physician could determine more clearly and recommend an appropriate treatment.
Contact our Fort Lauderdale location for all info on Spinal Cord Stimulators at 954-678-1074