If you’ve struggled with back pain for any length of time, you know it can leave you feeling miserable and wondering if there’s a way to find relief. Our physicians at MD Pain in Greenwood Village, Parker, and Thornton, Colorado, want you to know that a spinal cord stimulator may be able to alleviate your back pain and get you moving like you once did.
What is a spinal cord stimulator?
A spinal cord stimulator interrupts pain signals between your spinal cord and brain. If the signals are blocked, your brain doesn’t receive the message that you’re in pain. This device is placed under your skin during a surgical procedure. Small wires are implanted near your spine to deliver a mild electrical current that blocks the pain message sent to your brain.
A spinal cord stimulator doesn’t cure your back pain or treat the cause of it, but it can offer significant pain relief.
Types of back pain it can treat
Spinal cord stimulators are used for specific types of back pain, which include:
- Complex regional pain syndrome
- Back pain that doesn’t go away or that gets worse, even after surgery
- Back pain that involves inflammation of the lining of the spinal cord
Understanding the benefits
Once the spinal cord stimulator is placed, it minimizes the pain signals that reach your brain. Along with less pain, you might experience a few other benefits, which include:
- Increased ability to be active and mobile
- Decreased need for narcotic pain medication
- Improved sleep
- Better ability to function independently
- Reduced need for any bracing
There’s a trial period first
To find out if a spinal cord stimulator is right for you, your doctor conducts a spinal cord stimulator trial. During the procedure, flexible wires are placed near your spine using a special needle. These wires are then hooked up to a nerve stimulator that’s secured to the outside of your body. You’ll go home with this trial system for about 10 days.
During the trial, you should try to do activities that usually cause back pain. These activities might include standing in one place, walking up stairs, bending a certain way, or other normal activities of daily living. You might notice immediate benefits of the external stimulator, or it might take a few days for you to feel the effect.
When the trial is over, you’ll meet with your doctor to discuss your experience with the trial stimulator. If the treatment decreases your pain, you might be a good candidate for a permanent device. After you and your doctor discuss your options, you can decide if you want to move forward with the placement of the permanent nerve stimulator.
How is it placed?
Spinal cord stimulators are placed during a minimally invasive surgical procedure with short duration deep sedation. You’ll be drowsy, but still able to answer questions about your pain levels while your doctor is setting up the device. The medicine that makes you drowsy only lasts for a short time, but is enough to keep you comfortable throughout the entire procedure.
A small surgical cut is made in your abdomen or buttocks. The stimulator is then placed inside your body. The procedure leaves only a tiny opening from placing the lead. The surgery usually takes less than an hour, and you should be able to go home in a day or two.
If you’ve been struggling with chronic back pain and want to see if a spinal cord stimulator can help you, contact us at MD Pain. You can book an appointment online or call the office closest to you.