Spinal Cord Stimulation Trials and Implants
Spinal cord stimulation (SCS) is used to relieve chronic pain of the back, arms and legs through electrical pulses that prevent pain signals from being received by the brain. It is generally used for people who suffer from neuropathic pain and in cases when conservative treatments have failed. It requires a two- step approach. The first step is a “screening trial” to help the patient and doctor determine if the SCS is providing an acceptable level of pain relief.
Once the area is anesthetized, the doctor inserts temporary wire leads into the space surrounding the spinal cord. By providing feedback to the doctor, the patient helps ensure the stimulators are placed in the area that will best block his or her pain. The leads are connected to a temporary, external stimulator that the patient will use for seven to ten days.
If the patient and doctor decide the pain relief is acceptable, a second, permanent system will be implanted under general anesthesia. The patient can then turn the system on or off as needed and adjust the degree of stimulation for long-term pain relief.