How Does a Spinal Cord Stimulator Work?
Pain Management Specialist Dr. Anson Moise Explains This Effective Pain Management Tool in this Medical Minute Interview
Many patients have asked, “How Does a Spinal Cord Stimulator Work?” Board Certified Anesthesiologist and Pain Management doctor, Dr. Anson Moise explains this procedure and how it can help patients who are suffering from constant pain. Here’s what he had to say.
Spinal cord stimulation is an advanced pain management treatment used to treat chronic neuropathic intractable pain. So, when you have been dealing with pain for a very long time that may have failed conservative management, epidural steroid injections, or even spine surgery, this becomes an option.
This type of treatment is based on the theory that larger fibers that are activated are able to block pain fibers.
How is a Spinal Cord Stimulator Implanted?
In a sterile operating room under the sedation of an anesthesiologist, I would place two metal leads a few millimeters away from the spinal cord. Once these leads are in place, we actually wake you up because we want to map out the exact level of where you are having your pain.
Once we are able to successfully achieve blocking those pain signals with that electric current, then the procedure is over. After the procedure, you go home with a remote control that allows you to turn on the stimulator, turn it off, increase it or decrease it. During the trial period, which is about 7 to 10 days, you will do these things, and see how you feel.
When the stimulator is on and in place, we have about a 50% reduction in pain. You come to the office, 7-10 days later for us to remove it. Once we have that discussion, we will determine whether or not we would go ahead and proceed with the permanent implant.
The permanent implant is a small device, that now sends electrical signals through those leads. It goes under the skin under the sedation of an anesthesiologist. It is something that we can adjust, or alter over the course of the life span of the generator and the time that you have it.
What is the Success Rate of a Spinal Cord Stimulator?
The fact that we have this trial increases our ability for us to gauge success. If the trial works, we know that when you have this generator in place it is going to be functional and help you.
In my practice, about 70 to 80% of patients who have these trials go on to have success with permanent spinal cord stimulator implants.