If a patient has failed considerable conservative pain management treatment and potentially has a failed back surgery, spinal cord stimulator may be an excellent answer to achieving pain relief. The stimulator works by sending legible and pulses directly to the spinal cord and the nerve roots that are coming off of the cord, and changes the way pain signals are perceived by applying a tingling sensation. This tingling sensation covers the areas where prior to the stimulator pain was being experienced.
Spinal cord stimulator’s are typically used in patients who have chronic back pain, chronic neck pain, Spinal cord stimulations or pain in the arms or legs due to:
- Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy also known as Chronic Regional Pain Syndrome
- Postlaminectomy pain
- Epidural Fibrosis
- Failed Back Surgery Syndrome
Numerous studies have looked at the effectiveness of spinal cord stimulators and have shown that overall they work well approximately 60% of the time. There are some small risks associated with the stimulators, but overall they have a great benefit with a low risk profile. Prior to receiving the final implant, patients receive a trial that stays in for 5 to 7 days. If the trial gives the patient over 50% pain relief, then consideration should be given towards moving towards the final implant. These trial implants can be taken out in the office.
One of the greatest benefits with a spinal cord stimulator is that individuals can often reduce the amount of opiate medications they need to take. It can also allow patients to get back to work, play with their kids and have, a better social life.
Insurance companies do cover stimulators. They’re extremely expensive implants, typically costing over $15,000. Therefore, insurance companies typically will require the patient undergo psychological approval prior to implantation. There are 2 parts that get put in to the patient. One is the battery component, which is called the neurostimulator. It is fairly bulky and placed either in the front of the patient’s abdomen off to the side subcutaneously or over the buttock area on either side so that when a patient says they don’t compress it.
The 2nd part are the electrical leads that come off of the neurostimulator. They travel through soft tissues that are placed into the region of the spinal cord and there is a paddle portion at the end. This has diodes in it that transmit the electrical impulses into the area. Will the implants are designed to stay in permanently. They have a rechargeable battery that can be accomplished by the patient wearing an external belt while he or she is sleeping.
Some recent research has shown that it is better to consider a spinal cord stimulation earlier during treatment rather than as a complete last resort. Results within the 1st 2 years of experiencing chronic pain show a 5% effectiveness in between the 2nd and 5th year the effective result decreased down to 68%.
For patients who are disabled and dealing with daily pain, even if an implant only get rid of half of a person’s pain that would be excellent. Spinal cord stimulation can do exactly that in a lot of situations.