How Do Spinal Cord Stimulators Work? Managing Chronic Back Pain

A Constant Pain In The Back

Is that back pain not going away? This could be a sign of chronic back pain. Chronic pain is any pain lasting 12 weeks or more. Millions of Americans have back pain issues affecting the quality of life. This pain can be sudden due to injury or be gradual. Whatever the reason, pain medication and therapy are not always effective. That’s why recently, doctors have been suggesting spinal cord stimulators to fight chronic back pain.

Shocking the pain away

Spinal cord stimulators are small devices that send electrical signals to the spine for pain management. The goal of these signals is to disrupt the spinal nerves that are sending pain signals to the brain. The device has a pulse generator or control unit and wires or leads. Think of the device like a pacemaker but for the spine. Surgeons implant the battery-operated device in the lower back, using a simple procedure.

How effective are spinal cord stimulators?

The stimulator works by sending constant electrical pulses to the spine. The patient can control the vibrations remotely, as needed. Patients using stimulators report up to 70% improvement in chronic pain symptoms. The pain is still in the area; the brain just does not know what’s happening. Spinal cord stimulators transform the quality of life for patients who once could not deal with the pain.

Taking a test drive

Before the surgeon decides on implanting the stimulator, the patient goes through a trial period first. The goal of the trial is to see if the stimulator would be a good solution to chronic pain. For the trial to take place, surgeons insert the lead in the lower spine. The leads attach to an external stimulator. The patient uses the external stimulator for several days, keeping track of the improvement in pain. If the trial is successful, the medical team will move forward with a permanent stimulator.

Getting permanent relief through surgery

The permanent installation process is similar to the trial procedure. Doctors advise the patient to stop taking some medications, drinking, and smoking closer to the surgery. On the day of the procedure, the patient lies face down. The doctor then administers local anesthesia. Next, small incisions reveal the spine where the leads will be installed. The surgeon then places the leads in the correct area. At this point, the doctor wakes the patient for feedback on how well the device is working. From there, another incision is made in the lower back to install the pulse generator permanently.

Live with less chronic pain today

Are medication and therapy proving ineffective? Speak with a pain management specialist about alternative treatments like spinal cord stimulators. The doctor will do an assessment to determine if the device is the next best step. Stimulators have been proven to reduce pain when conventional methods fail. Time to join the tens of thousands living with less back pain, starting today.


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