What Is Spinal Cord Stimulation?

If you suffer from chronic pain that hasn’t responded to other treatments, a spinal cord stimulator could help. Spinal cord stimulators are devices that deliver low-level electrical stimulation to block pain signals. They’re considered the “pacemakers for pain.” And, although the stimulator may not provide pain relief in all cases, previous literature has demonstrated that approximately one-half of all patients who use a trial spinal cord stimulator report significant pain relief. Over 70% of patients who used an implanted spinal cord stimulator for neuropathic pain reported pain relief benefits.

Spinal cord stimulation is reversible, safe, and effective. It can manage specific types of chronic pain that has not responded to other treatment modalities, such a medications, steroid injections, or physical therapy. Intractable pain, chiefly from neuropathic origins, responds favorably to spinal cord stimulation. Lesions on the central or peripheral nervous system can cause dysfunction and result in chronic neuropathic pain. Using spinal cord stimulation for the management of this type of chronic pain has been effective for many patients.

Spinal cord stimulation consists of inserting a medical device near the spinal cord that delivers low-level electrical impulses to the epidural space. These low levels of electrical impulse are the basis of signals sent through the body’s neurological system. Often these devices have a hand-held regulator you can use to send pain-blocking signals to the spinal cord as needed. Your goal is to override the pain signals the brain would be receiving from the peripheral nerves. The type of pain that originates from the spinal nerves is usually associated with damage caused by an inflammatory response or injury to the peripheral nerves. Stimulation at the spinal cord can correct these impulses and may effectively help to manage your pain levels.

The procedure is regarded as effective, reversible, and a safe treatment option for chronic pain as a result of neuropathic disturbances. Previously, studies have examined the effectiveness and found that over 70% of patients who used spinal cord stimulation after the trial period for their chronic neuropathic pain reported continued benefits from the device after a one-year follow-up. Scientists estimate that approximately 14,000 of these stimulation devices are used every year for the treatment of chronic pain worldwide.

Spinal Cord Stimulation For Chronic Pain

Chronic pain is a condition experienced by more people in the United States than diabetes, heart disease, and cancer combined, according to the National Institutes of Health. Cited as the most common reason that people contact their healthcare provider, pain is the leading cause of disability and chronic pain is the leading cause of long-term disability. It’s why another option for pain management–spinal cord stimulators–are such an important treatment.

Estimates of the prevalence of chronic pain disorders in the United States have been as great as 30%. The Institute of Medicine estimates that nearly 116 million U.S. citizens suffer from one type of chronic pain condition. This is only slightly lower than