How Does Spinal Cord Stimulation Work?

Spinal Cord Stimulation, or SCS, offers hope for many of the estimated 75 million people who suffer from chronic pain. 1 SCS sends electrical impulses that trigger nerve fibers selectively along the sppinal cord, masking the pain message traveling to the brain. When this happens, the painful sensation is replace with a soothing, tingling sensation.2

What Condition Are Treated with SCS Therapy?

SCS is prescribed for the treatment of chronic neuropathic pain of the back, trunk, or limbs. Many people with failed back surgeries, RSD, CRPS, phantom limb, and other types of neuropathic pain have had great success with the SCS.3 It is most commonly used to treat low back and lower extremity pain.3 Thousands of patients with severe chronic painful conditions have relief with spinal cord stimulation.

How Do I Know SCS Will Work?

One of the advantages of SCS therapy is that the patient gets to "test drive" an external version of the device to see if spinal cord stimulation is an effective treatment for their pain.

During the "test drive," insulated leads are inserted through a needle or small incision in an anesthetized area near the spinal cord. As part of the procedure, the patient may give the physician feedback on where to place the leads for maximum pain reduction.

Once the physician locates the "sweet spot," the leads are connected to an external trial simulator that is tucked inside an external belt. The patient also gets a wireless remote control so they can increase to decrease the electrical impulses to reduce their pain. The external version is typically worn anywhere from a few days to one week.

This trial period gives the patient the opportunity to decide if SCS effectively reduces their pain.

How is the Permanent Implantation Performed?

After the "test drive", the patient and physician decide wether or not spinal cord stimulation is an effective therapy. If they decide to go forward, then the patient will undergo another surgical place the Precision Implantable Pulse Generator. The leads may be inserted in a procedure similar to an epidural. In some cases, a physician may recommend a surgical lead, also known as a paddle lead. In this case, the paddle lead is placed at the target site during the surgical procedure. Patients may remain awake during this procedure, under local anesthesia and light sedation. In other cases, general anesthesia mat be administered. 4

Beside a cordless remote control, the patient will also receive a portable, cordless charger and a base station for the charger.