Spinal Cord Stimulation

spinal-cord-stimulation

what is a spinal cord stimulator?

A spinal cord stimulator is a device that sends electrical impulses to the areas of the spinal cord causing pain and interferes with the transmission of pain signals to the brain. It blocks the brain's ability to sense pain in the stimulated areas, thus relieving pain without the side effects that medications can cause. The electrical impulses can be targeted to specific locations and, as pain changes or improves, stimulation can be adjusted as necessary.

indications for a spinal cord stimulator

Nerve compression or decompression can cause back and leg pain. Among other causes, scar tissue around the nerves or chronic inflammation of the nerves such as arachnoiditis may cause leg and back pain.

preparing for a spinal cord stimulator

Before implanting a permanent stimulator, you will undergo a trial stimulation period to see if the stimulation helps relieve the pain. If it does, a permanent stimulator may be implanted.

spinal cord stimulator procedure

There are several ways of implanting the stimulator. The initial implantation of the trial is generally done when you are awake so that you can determine if the stimulator is covering the appropriate spot of the spinal cord and is giving you pain relief.

Pioneer physicians place a trial lead using a spinal needle during a procedure performed at an outpatient ambulatory surgical center.

postoperative care following the insertion of a spinal cord stimulator trial lead

You are generally discharged on the same day or the following day of the procedure. You should keep the dressing very clean and dry. Do not take any blood thinner of any sort until the trial leads are removed, including Coumadin, Eliquis, or aspirin in any form.

risks and complications of a spinal cord stimulator

The risks of inserting a spinal cord stimulator are low. The potential risks include spinal headache, bleeding, infection, injury to nerves, injury to the spinal cord, paralysis, and death. The risk increases dramatically if the patients have any blood thinners in their system before or during the trial period.


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