What is a Spinal Cord Stimulation?
Spinal Cord Stimulation is a procedure in which an insulated lead or wire with electrodes is placed in the epidural space, much like having an epidural steroid injection, and stimulates the spinal cord with extremely small amounts of electricity which can blunt/block pain signals from various parts of the body. You will not feel any electrical sensation once the lead is placed correctly in the spine. It is a procedure for those who have failed conservative and injection therapies. Indications may include failed back or neck syndrome/post-laminectomy syndrome, complex regional pain syndrome, neuropathic pain, diabetic neuropathy, etc. This procedure starts with a 5-10 day trial period at which time you will have the ability to “test drive” the device before deciding if the treatment is beneficial.
What are the pre-requisites in order to perform this procedure?
You may need to stop taking certain medications several days before the procedure, especially anticoagulant or “blood thinning” medications, as well as other prescription and/or over-the-counter medications, including herbal and vitamin supplements.
How long does the procedure take?
The procedure can take anywhere from 20 minutes to 1 hour with an average of about 30 min.
Will the procedure hurt?
Most people report that the stinging/burning of the numbing medicine is the most uncomfortable part of the procedure though every person’s response to any procedure is individual. Patients usually receive IV sedation which will relax you for the procedure but you are not asleep.
What should I expect after the procedure and what are the side effects?
Pain relief may take a couple days to notice and until then you may have some discomfort in your back from the procedure. There are no side effects but you may experience a tingling or buzzing sensation during a 7-day trial which can be adjusted with a hand-held remote.
What should I do after the procedure?
Some localized tenderness may be experienced for a couple of days after the procedure. Using an ice pack with a barrier such as a towel between the skin and ice, three or four times a day will help this. You may take your prescribed pain medications after the injection. It is important that you keep track of the amount of pain relief you received as well as how much more functional you are.
Spinal Cord Stimulator Implant
The permanent implantation may be performed while the patient is under sedation or general anesthesia. First, one or more permanent leads are inserted through an epidural needle or a small incision into the predetermined location in the epidural space.