While most types of pain respond to conventional treatment, some types of chronic back pain and nerve pain are difficult to treat. This is especially true for patients who have chronic nerve pain associated with post laminectomy syndrome or sciatica, also known as lumbar radiculopathy. For these patients, the Integrated Pain Solutions team frequently recommends spinal cord stimulator (SCS) implants.
An SCS has small wires that are placed around the spinal column and connect to a small battery implanted beneath the skin. The battery sends electrical pulses along the wires to interrupt pain signals between the nerve and the brain (patients often describe the SCS pulses as a “tingling sensation”).
Patients receive a temporary implant and external battery, to ensure the treatment is effective at managing symptoms. If after one week, patients are satisfied with the effects of the SCS, they return to the clinic for a permanent SCS implant, a procedure that takes about an hour. Patients can adjust the electrical pulses using an external wireless controller.
Following this outpatient procedure, patients may experience mild discomfort and swelling, and they may be ordered to restrict activity for several weeks or a few months. Many patients notice a considerable degree of pain relief in the days following the SCS procedure.
Back surgery often fails to alleviate chronic back pain, and repeat surgery can make back pain even worse. A spinal cord stimulator implant is an effective alternative to repeat back surgery, and it gives patients control of their pain management.
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