How Does a Spinal Cord Stimulator Treat Chronic Pain?
Looking for a real solution to chronic pain relief?
Chronic pain is extremely debilitating and can be difficult to treat, especially when it's occurring in your back. What's more, new epidemics of back pain are appearing every year in the U.S.
With chronic pain on the rise, it's definitely worth investigating other treatment solutions besides physical therapy sessions and pain medications. A spinal cord stimulator may just be the solution for you.
Read on to learn more about how spinal cord stimulators can assist with chronic pain relief.
1. Spinal Cord Stimulation Tackles Nerve Activity
Pain medications can assist with managing chronic pain by interfering with certain pain messages your body transmits back and forth between the brain and the site of the pain.
In a similar fashion, a spinal cord stimulator works directly with nerve activity in your body. It interferes with the transfer of pain messages and modifies how your brain receives these messages.
Stimulators rely on harmless electrical pulses sent along the spinal column in order to accomplish this. These pulses can either completely eliminate or at least lessen the feeling of pain the brain eventually receives and processes.
The result is consistent and immediate relief of chronic pain, whether experienced in the neck or the back.
2. Address Chronic Pain Without Medication
Spinal cord stimulators offer a solution to chronic pain that does not involve a prescription or other hospital-grade medication. It relies solely on electrical impulses and your own foundational neurological anatomy.
While painkillers technically operate in the same way as spinal cord stimulators, they sometimes do not prove effective for certain kinds of pain. Pain medications also have to be taken with high frequency.
Patients who are looking for a solution to their neck or back pain that does not involve constant pill popping will benefit from spinal stimulation.
3. It Involves an Implant
In order to operate most effectively and target the nerves along the spinal column, spinal cord stimulators are implanted inside of the patient. The generator is implanted at the base of the spine through a simple procedure.
Generators can be all shapes and sizes, just like cardiac pacemakers, but typically they are no bigger than a half-dollar coin. Because these are literally implanted in the body through a brief incision, stimulators are able to directly access the neurological pathways in your body and intervene in the flow of pain messages.
Patients who are considering spinal cord stimulators will meet with their doctors for several consultations and screenings prior to the implanting procedure, which will require local anesthesia.
4. A Spinal Cord Stimulator Can Help A Number of Patients
Spinal cord stimulators aren't for everyone, but they are certainly best for many patients who suffer from a variety of forms of chronic pain.
First and foremost, spinal cord stimulation is appropriate for patients who are recovering from a significant neck or back surgery. When it comes to back pain, patients with failed back surgery syndrome will benefit most from spinal stimulation.
Individuals with chronic back and neck pain, complex regional pain syndrome, and peripheral neuropathy are great candidates for spinal cord stimulation. If you are unsure whether or not your spinal condition can be treated by stimulation, reach out to a spinal expert.
5. Stimulation Is an Alternative to Surgery
Stimulation can help patients recovering from a back or neck surgery. It's also excellent for patients who are wanting an alternative route to surgery, depending on their condition.
Spinal cord stimulators actually fall under the category of therapy. Patients wanting to investigate stimulation are able to have a trial period with the device to see if it helps with pain management on a daily basis.
Stimulators do not guarantee, however, that surgery will not be necessary for certain patients.
6. Spinal Cord Stimulators Are Reversible
Patients with chronic back or neck pain may be wary of signing up for surgery, for such measures are not reversible. This means that whatever happens on the operating table is mostly permanent and can be risky.
The great thing about spinal cord stimulators is the fact that they are in fact reversible! Although they do involve an implant, these devices can be removed after a trial period without damaging the spinal column, nerve system, or internal tissues. This is why a trial period does exist in the first place.
Furthermore, there are no side effects or symptoms to be had with spinal cord stimulators. Some patients may not find it effective, but no patient suffers from unwanted side effects.
7. It's Important to Understand the Risks and Disadvantages
Spinal cord stimulators can provide needed relief to a variety of patients suffering from chronic pain conditions. They offer a non-medicinal solution to managing pain on a daily basis.
However, it's also important to understand the risks and disadvantages of potentially getting a spinal cord stimulator for your chronic pain. Some patients may experience issues with the stimulation device itself, while a very minimal percentage of patients may feel pain at the site of the implant or even develop an infection after the initial procedure.
The best way to see if a spinal cord stimulator is right for you is to talk to a doctor.
Using A Spinal Cord Stimulator to Treat Pain
It is entirely possible to find a solution to your chronic pain, no matter where you are experiencing it or what your background is. Spinal cord stimulators offer a non-medicinal approach to managing pain because they directly interfere with the body's nerve activity to modify pain messages directed to the brain.
Patients who opt for this solution to their chronic pain will receive a simple implant that transmits electrical pulses along their spinal cord. These pulses change nerve feedback received in the brain in order to reverse how your body experiences pain. Patients with back pain are especially applicable for taking advantage of this device.
At the Comprehensive Spine Institute, we are leading the fight against chronic pain. At CSI, we are the experts when it comes to helping patients manage debilitating spine conditions of all kinds.
Check out our services page to learn more about what we can offer you, or reach out to us today to schedule your first consultation!