Advantages of Spinal Cord Stimulators
Chronic pain is a serious public health problem, affecting about 100 million U.S. adults. That’s about one out of every four people. Lower back pain is the most common type of chronic pain; about 80 percent of people experience it at some point in their lives.
There are many different approaches to treating lower back pain. These include drugs, surgery, and physical therapy. Non-traditional treatments, such as acupuncture and spinal manipulation, are a good choice too.
Another effective treatment option is the use of spinal cord stimulators. Let’s see how they work and what makes them so beneficial!
How Does Spinal Cord Stimulation Work?
Spinal cord stimulation is not a new approach to back pain relief. It was approved for use in the U.S. in the late 1980s. Due to the advances in technology, these products have evolved a lot over the years.
Patients who are suffering from failed back surgery syndrome (FBSS) or have not had success with other treatment options are often good candidates for this procedure.
Basically, spinal cord stimulators work by blocking pain signals before they reach the brain. A small battery-powered device is implanted in the body near the spine. It delivers a mild electric current to your spinal cord.
These devices don’t eliminate the source of pain. Instead, they change how your brain perceives the pain signals. As it’s true with many other treatments, the level of pain relief varies from person to person.
There are different kinds of spinal cord stimulators, but all involve an implanted device.
This device emits electrical pulses to a lead wire with eight to 32 electrodes to deliver the pulses to the spinal cord. An external remote control is used to adjust the settings and turn the device on and off.
The Benefits of Spinal Cord Stimulators
Turning to spinal cord stimulators for back pain relief is rarely the first treatment option tried. This procedure is recommended for patients who have tried just about everything with little or no results.
There are many advantages to this approach. Once you know them, you’ll be able to make an informed decision.
Undergoing surgery is a major decision. There are risks involved in any kind of surgery, and it can be quite expensive. Surgery is also the most invasive treatment option, often involving significant permanent alterations to the body.
Unlike surgery, the use of spinal cord stimulators is reversible.
You can decide to discontinue the treatment anytime. The implant, electrical contacts, and wires are simply removed with no long-lasting effects.
The hand-held controller allows you to control the level of electrical impulses. From the initial setting to making changes daily (or even within the day), you can decide what level of stimulus is needed.
Test It with a Trial Run
Before any final decision is made on whether to try spinal cord stimulators, you first undergo a trial period. This allows you to test the effectiveness of the treatment before you go ahead with the full procedure.
A temporary lead is inserted and placed over specific nerves. The wires are attached to an external generator that can be worn on a belt.
During a period of four to seven days, you will keep a written log of your experience. You will be asked to record how you feel during different activities and levels of stimulation.
After the trial period, you will return to the doctor’s office to discuss whether or not to get a permanent implant.
At the Comprehensive Spine Institute, over 70 percent of those who do a trial experience enough pain relief to go forward with the treatment.
There Are Few Side Effects
Another attractive advantage of spinal cord stimulation is the low risk of side effects.
There is no lengthy recovery like it happens with major surgery. Plus, you won’t deal with the adverse reactions of pain medication.
Instead, you only experience some minor discomfort from the procedure to implant the device and wires. Healing takes just a few days, not weeks or months.
Reduces the Need for Drugs
With the level of pain reduced by spinal cord stimulators, the need for pain-relievers is also lessened.
Many drugs, particularly opioids, can lead to addiction problems. Pain relievers can be helpful, but they should only be used for a short time.
Since chronic pain is long-lasting, it leads to the long-term use of medications. This can further affect your health and cause other issues.
It’s Cost Effective
Treating chronic back pain can be extremely expensive. In fact, nearly $300 billion is spent each year on chronic pain.
The cost of spinal cord stimulation is comparable and often lower than the costs associated with other treatments.
Studies show that this procedure is both cost-effective and beneficial for pain sufferers.
How Effective Is This Treatment?
To be considered successful, treatment must reduce pain in at least half of patients. Numerous studies indicate that spinal cord stimulators meet this standard.
Advancements in the current methods of spinal cord stimulation are being researched and developed all the time.
Currently, scientists are implementing changes in the design of electrodes. They are also trying to create longer-lasting batteries. These are just a few examples of how this treatment option is being improved.
No Need to Wait for an Appointment
Dealing with back pain or spine conditions can negatively impact on your quality of life. These issues may affect your career, relationships, and day-to-day activities.
At the Comprehensive Spine Institute, we provide a wide range of treatment options, both surgical and non-surgical. We focus on educating our patients about their conditions. Our specialists will explain the available treatment options to you and your family.
There is no need to wait months for an appointment. Call us, and we will be in touch with you within one business day!