Am I a Good Candidate?
Candidates for Spinal Cord Stimulation Therapy are typically identified through a screening process, which evaluates the person’s medical condition, and begins with a thorough assessment by the specialists at Comprehensive Spine & Pain Physicians.
Spinal Cord Stimulation Therapy has been used for decades as an effective treatment for a variety of chronic pain conditions, such as back pain, neck pain, and complex regional pain syndrome. Its use by pain management specialists has been steadily increasing, and people who have had back surgery and continue to experience chronic pain (Failed Back Surgery Syndrome) are often good candidates for Spinal Cord Stimulation therapy.
Other conditions that may require spinal cord stimulation include:
- Arachnoiditis: Painful inflammation and scarring of the protective layers of the spinal nerves
- Chronic Back Pain
- Chronic Leg Pain
- Complex Regional Pain Syndrome
- Peripheral Neuropathy
- Complex Regional Pain Syndrome
- Refractory Angina
What are the Advantages?
The main advantage of Spinal Cord Stimulation Therapy is that it can be reversed. If a person has the treatment, and then decides that they no longer wish to continue with it, they can discontinue the therapy at any time and the electrical contacts, wires and generator can all be removed with no permanent changes to the spine.
Other potential advantages of Spinal Cord Stimulation Therapy include:
- Personalized pain relief. Typically, pain varies widely within a person, as well as from person to person. The devices used during therapy have an increasing number of pain adjustment options, which continue to expand as new models are introduced. In addition, some models adjust automatically to the person’s movements. For people dealing with chronic pain, having control over their pain can certainly be a welcome, empowering change.
- Minimally invasive procedure. A single incision (to implant the generator) is typically required, and ever-smaller generators do not require long incisions. Also, the placement of the leads with electrodes is typically done with a hollow needle, rather than through an incision. There are few side effects, and it can be easily removed if a person decides that it doesn’t work, or is no longer needed.
- Reduced opioid use. If a person experiences pain relief with spinal cord stimulation and peripheral nerve stimulation, he or she may be able to take fewer pain medications. In a recent medical study of participants who had been in chronic pain for an average of 13 years, more than a third who had high-frequency therapy either reduced or stopped taking opioid medications altogether.
- Targeted pain relief. Pain medications generally affect the whole body, and can cause unwanted side effects, such as sleepiness, constipation, or other problems unrelated to the pain. By contrast, spinal cord stimulation delivers pain relief only where it is needed.
- Few side effects, if any. The therapy generally does not have the type of side effects associated with many medications.
- Cost-effective pain relief. The cost of spinal cord stimulation treatment compares favorably with alternatives, including non-surgical treatments.
- Alternative to oral medication. For those who have trouble taking oral medication, the therapy offers another pain control option.
- No refills needed and few office visits. Spinal Cord Stimulation Therapy can continue to provide pain relief for years, without a need for new pills or frequent office visits.
What are the Disadvantages and Risks?
Although Spinal cord stimulation has proven to be an effective treatment for many suffering from chronic pain, it does not always produce the most desired results for everyone. For patients who receive Spinal Cord Stimulation treatment, a 50-60% reduction in pain is ideal. Also, the devices can experience complications. For example, the most common complications have been the unintended movement of the leads, failed connections in leads, and breakage of leads. Device-related issues are more common than physical issues like hemorrhage or neurological damage (Mehta, N, 2016, August 23).
Additional, less serious disadvantages include:
- Fluctuations in Simulation: Unintended changes may cause jolting or shocking feelings. If this occurs, the device should be turned off and a doctor contacted.
- Pain is not Resolved: The treatment interferes with pain signals to the brain, but the underlying condition is not treated.
- Reaction to Pressure: Patients should not participate in activities that add pressure to the body, such as scuba diving.
- Electromagnetic Interference: Strong interference (such as from a defibrillator or MRI) can damage the generator may lead to severe burns, serious injury, or death.
- Generator Discomfort: For some people, the implanted generator can be irritating or uncomfortable.
If you are suffering from chronic back pain and surgery has not helped relieve your pain, call Comprehensive Spine & Pain Physicians at (818) 325-2088 to make an appointment today. Located in Burbank, California, the specialists at Comprehenisve Pain Physicians will help treat your pain to enable you to return to your previously more comfortable life.
Mehta, N. (2016, August 23). Disadvantages and Risks of Spinal Cord Stimulation. Retrieved October 20, 2017, from http://www.spine-health.com/treatment/back-surgery/disadvantages-and-risks-spinal-cord-stimulation