What Is a Spinal Cord Stimulator Implant?
A Spinal Cord Stimulator Implant (SCS) is a small neuromodulation device that can be surgically placed under the skin to relieve back pain. The implant can then be controlled by the patient via a pulse generator. The SCS transmits a mild electrical current to the spinal cord in order to interrupt the body’s pain signals. While the SCS does not eliminate the source of pain symptoms, it can mask the way the brain perceives pain signals to significantly reduce pain. Some patients experience a tingling sensation called paresthesia in place of their usual pain symptoms. There are different types of SCS systems, and some can reduce paresthesia for patients who find the tingling feeling unpleasant. Your surgeon may also perform a trial procedure to discover if a SCS will provide you with pain relief and to determine which type of device is best suited for you.
Types of Spinal Cord Stimulators
Conventional systems are the standard SCS. These implants are effective, but when the power source is depleted surgery is required to replace it.
Radiofrequency systems have the highest power capabilities of any SCS therapy, they require the patient to wear an external power source. This type of SCS may be well suited for patients with complex pain.
Rechargeable systems utilize an internal power source that the patient must periodically recharge themselves. The power source is designed to last longer than a conventional system, but still may require replacement surgery at some point.
What to Expect During the Procedure
During the surgical procedure to place the SCS, a local anesthetic will be used to numb the placement areas. You may be given IV sedation to help you relax, but you will typically be awake for the procedure in order to provide feedback on the implant placement. If leads are already in place from a trial implantation, then you may be given general anesthesia. There are several parts to the SCS. The leads are small surgical devices that deliver the electrical pulses and are usually placed near the top of the spine. Wires are placed that connect the leads to a pulse generator. The pulse generator is used to control the output of the leads and is typically placed near the top of the buttocks or somewhere easily accessible by the patient. Your doctor will discuss device type and placement with you prior to your procedure.
Spinal Cord Stimulator Implant Results and Recovery
After the surgical procedure to place the Spinal Cord Stimulator Implant, patients typically return home the same day. You may experience minor discomfort at the implant site, which can be alleviated with medication. Movement and physical activities will be limited for approximately six weeks after implantation. Exercise, stretching, lifting, and performing housework will be restricted. It is important to attend follow-up appointments and adhere to your doctor’s recommendations for resuming physical activity. SCS treatment is reversible and the implant can be removed by your surgeon at any time. In one study, patients reported that their pain was greatly reduced by over 70%.
Am I A Candidate For A Spinal Cord Stimulator Implant?
If you suffer from pain in your back, legs, or arms, and your pain is not responsive to medication, or you are not able to use pharmaceutical therapies, then a Spinal Cord Stimulator Implant may be right for you. A consultation with an experienced surgeon will help you determine if SCS therapy may help alleviate your pain symptoms.
Our team is committed to helping patients find relief from pain. We offer personalized minimally invasive treatment options and compassionate care. Contact us with any questions or to schedule an appointment.
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