Spinal Cord Stimulator Implantation
What is spinal cord stimulation?
Spinal Cord Stimulation (SCS) is used to treat nerve root pain along the spinal cord. It is recommended only after more conservative measures, including injections, medications, physical therapy, and corrective surgery, have been attempted. In this procedure a small lead and attached generator are implanted in the epidural space. The lead delivers low level electrical pulses to nerves along the spinal cord, disrupting the transmission of pain signals to the brain. Instead of feeling pain, the patient should then experience a tingling sensation, though the specific sensation varies from person to person. SCS is a treatment option for many chronic pain conditions, including CRPS, peripheral neuropathies, and failed back surgery syndrome.
How is the SCS system controlled?
The SCS pulse generator is battery operated, and can be programmed by an external radiofrequency system attached to a small computer. The patient can also have some control of the generator, in that they can switch it on and off using a small hand held magnet. Some generators can also be switched into high mode by this magnet system.
How long does the battery last?
Battery life is usually 3 - 5 years depending on daily use and the signal intensity required. Further surgery is required to replace the pulse generator with a new one when the batteries have expired.
Is SCS safe?
Yes. Spinal Cord Stimulation has been in clinical use for decades. Thousands of people worldwide have benefited from spinal cord stimulation therapy. SCS systems have been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for adults with chronic pain of the trunk and or limbs, including unilateral or bilateral pain associated with failed back syndrome and intractable low back and leg pain.
What does SCS feel like?
Spinal cord stimulation results in a tingling sensation, called paresthesia, that most people report as pleasant. This feeling can differ from person to person. This tingling should be centered over the areas where pain is usually felt.
Will I be totally pain free with SCS?
People differ in the amount of pain relief that they receive with SCS therapy. SCS is not intended to deal with the source of your pain, so it is not a cure. However, it is intended to mask the feeling of pain with a more pleasant tingling sensation, which should help decrease the pain that you feel.
Will I feel the implant? Is it bulky or uncomfortable?
Depending on your body shape and size and where the implanted is located, you may see or feel the outline of the implant under your skin. The implant is the smallest SCS device currently available. Its small size makes it easier for your doctor to place it where it is most comfortable and convenient for you.