Spinal Cord Stimulation (SCS) and Peripheral Nerve Stimulation (PNS) are widely used methods to alleviate chronic pain originating from various sources. These procedures employ low-voltage nerve stimulation to block pain sensations, improving pain management and potentially reducing the reliance on pain medication.
What is Spinal Cord Stimulation?
A Spinal Cord Stimulator, also known as a dorsal column stimulator, is a surgically implanted device that sends mild electric currents to the spinal cord, aiding in pain reduction. By utilizing a small wire to deliver currents from a pulse generator to spinal cord nerve fibers, two types of stimulators are available. The first type creates a gentle tingling sensation in the concentrated pain area, while the second type delivers higher-frequency impulses that provide pain relief without tingling. It’s important to note that while spinal cord stimulation doesn’t eliminate the pain source, it aims for a 50-70% reduction in pain. Even a slight decrease can greatly improve daily activities and reduce reliance on pain medication. In cases where spinal cord stimulation is unsuccessful, the implant can be safely removed without harming the spinal cord or nerves.
Understanding the Stimulation System
Spinal cord stimulation systems typically consist of an implantable pulse generator with a battery, a lead with multiple electrodes for delivering electrical pulses to the spinal cord, a connecting wire, and a handheld remote for controlling the pulse generator. The low-voltage electrical pulses generated by the battery offer pain relief. While a standard battery requires replacement every two to five years through surgery, a rechargeable battery can last up to 10 years. During the trial stimulation, your doctor will select the most suitable system for you.
Candidate Evaluation and Benefits
To determine if spinal cord stimulation is an option, your doctor will assess your condition and pain management goals during a consultation. A comprehensive evaluation of your pain history, along with considerations from a psychologist if needed, will contribute to the decision. Candidates for SCS are often individuals who have experienced disability for over 12 months and have chronic lower back and leg pain (sciatica) or neck and arm pain. They may have also undergone unsuccessful spinal surgeries. If you meet the criteria, such as failed conservative therapies, verified pain source, and suitability for implantation, you may be a candidate for SCS.
The Procedure and Surgeon
Once deemed eligible, Dr. Jameson or Dr. J Kent will perform the trial and implantation procedures for the spinal cord stimulator. The process involves a trial stimulation to assess the effectiveness of pain reduction before permanent implantation. Stage one includes the insertion of a trial lead through a needle into the epidural space, with fluoroscopy assisting in proper lead positioning. After the trial procedure, you’ll provide feedback on pain relief levels, and if successful, you may proceed to stage two, where permanent implantation is performed. During this stage, the correct number of electrodes and stimulation type will be determined based on the information gathered during the trial.
Peripheral Nerve Stimulation for Chronic Pain Relief
Peripheral Nerve Stimulation is a common technique used to alleviate chronic pain by targeting peripheral nerves, which are located outside the brain and spinal cord. This procedure involves placing a small electrical device near a peripheral nerve, delivering rapid electrical pulses that help block pain signals. Peripheral nerve stimulation is often used to treat back pain and joint pain, providing a non-invasive option for managing chronic pain.
Incorporating spinal cord stimulation and peripheral nerve stimulation techniques, our experienced specialists at Phusion Wellness are dedicated to providing effective pain management solutions tailored to your unique needs.