Spinal cord stimulation is a treatment for pain that uses a mild electric current to block nerve impulses in the spine.
A trial electrode will be put in first to see if it helps your pain.
If the treatment reduces your pain by 50% or more, you will be offered a permanent generator. The generator will be implanted a few weeks later.
The generator runs on batteries. Some batteries are rechargeable. Others last 2 to 5 years. You will need another surgery to have the battery replaced when it gets too old.
Your doctor may recommend this procedure if you have:
SCS is used after you have tried other treatments such as medication and exercise and they have not worked.
Risks of surgery are:
The SCS device may interfere with other devices, such as pacemakers and defibrillators. After the SCS is implanted, you may not be able to get an MRI anymore (discuss this with your health care provider).
Tell your doctor or nurse what drugs you are taking, even drugs or herbs you bought without a prescription.
During the days before the surgery:
On the day of the surgery:
After the permanent generator is placed, the surgical cut will be closed and covered with a dressing. You will be taken to the recovery room to wake up from the anesthesia.
Most people can go home the same day, but your doctor may want you to stay overnight in the hospital. You will be taught how to care for your surgical site.
You should avoid heavy lifting, bending, and twisting while you are healing. Light exercise such as walking can be helpful during recovery.
Patients who have this procedure may have less back pain and need to take fewer pain medications. However, the treatment does not completely cure back pain or treat the source of the pain.
Neurostimulator; SCS; Neuromodulation
Kumar A, Pandey AK, Okun MS. Clinical neurophysiology. In: Daroff RB, Fenichel GM, Jankovic J, Mazziotta JC, eds. Bradley's Neurology in Clinical Practice. 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2012:chap 32D.
Updated by: Joseph V. Campellone, MD, Division of Neurology, Cooper University Hospital, Camden, NJ. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
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