A spinal cord stimulator, or SCS, consists of surgically implanted leads and electrodes that the surgeon places under the skin to send electric impulses from a pulse generator to the patient's spinal cord. Small wires are attached to the pulse generator, sending mild impulses from the device to the spinal cord's nerve fibers to reduce the patient's pain. Instead of pain, the patient feels a pleasant tingling sensation called paresthesia. Although spinal cord stimulation has a high success rate, this surgery is reversible, so patients who choose to discontinue spinal cord stimulation therapy in the future can have the SCS removed.
The Spinal Cord Stimulator Procedure
To place a spinal cord stimulator, the surgeon numbs the patient's skin and makes a small incision in the buttocks or abdomen. Then, the surgeon inserts the spinal cord stimulator's wires under the skin, stretching them on top of the spinal cord. The wires connect to a small generator that the patient will carry with them. Usually, a spinal cord stimulator procedure takes up to 2 hours.
Conditions Treated by Spinal Cord Stimulators
While spinal cord stimulation does not relieve all types of pain, this technology can treat an array of painful medical conditions. Spinal cord stimulation may be a viable option for those who suffer from diabetic neuropathy, complex regional pain syndrome, post-surgical residual back pain, persistent neck pain and chronic back pain that cannot be remedied by exercise, medicine or alternative treatments.
Typical Results of a Spinal Cord Stimulator Procedure
Spinal cord stimulation can be successful at helping people manage their chronic pain by significantly reducing the severity of their pain. Although each person's level of pain is unique, the findings from multiple studies on spinal cord stimulation show that spinal cord stimulators decreased at least 85 percent of patients' pain by 50 percent to 70 percent. A lot of spinal cord stimulator patients feel that this device has restored their ability to complete everyday activities and allowed them to enjoy life once again.
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