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Spinal Cord Stimulation for Chronic Pain

Spinal cord stimulation (SCS) is a procedure that uses an electrical current to treat chronic pain. A small pulse generator, implanted into the back sends electrical impulses to the spinal cord. These pulses interfere with the nerve impulses that make you feel pain.

Initially a trial of stimulation will be performed through a skin insertion (percutaneously) for a trial run of the spinal cord stimulation. This trial usually lasts anywhere from three to seven days. It allows the patient to live with the stimulator and its effects for this period of time in essence creating a trial run of the spinal cord stimulator, which would be permanently implanted by our orthopaedic surgeons should the trial be successful. If the trial is successful, which is usually deemed as a reduction of overall pain to at least 50% level, then a permanent implant can be done, which does require minor surgery where the stimulator itself is implanted under the skin, a pocket is made for the generator and a separate incision is made for the electronic leads which are inserted into the epidural space of the spinal canal. This is an outpatient procedure, usually for the trial and sometime even a permanent placement. Occasionally, it might require a one-day hospital stay.

When in use the spinal cord stimulator creates a tingling feeling rather than the pain you have felt in the past.

The most common uses for spinal cord stimulation are in people with failed back surgery syndrome or postlaminectomy syndrome, severe nerve related pain or numbness, and chronic pain syndrome such as complexion regional pain syndrome. It has also been used but is considered investigatory in treatment for multiple sclerosis, paraplegia, and intractable angina.

All of the procedures relating to spinal cord stimulation including the trial and the permanent placement are done under live fluoroscopic guidance.

Spinal cord stimulation is just one of the many treatments that we can offer you at Orthopaedic Institute to help treat such difficult problems as postlaminectomy syndrome and severe chronic pain syndromes such as complexion regional pain syndrome.