Spinal cord stimulation is just one of the many treatment protocols that our New Jersey spine specialty practice uses to help patients suffering from chronic pain. Those who have had the procedure generally report a significant reduction in their discomfort, and a recent study showed that the procedure’s effects last more than a year and led to a decrease in patients’ reliance on medications for pain relief.
According to a study of 52 patients conducted by Mayank Gupta, MD, of St. Luke’s Cushing Memorial Hospital in Overland Park, Kansas, and the Kansas Pain Specialists in Leavenworth, patients who’d had the procedure reported that their pain was reduced by 73% after an average follow-up time of 15.6 months, and about 90% of the patients said that their pain had been cut by at least half.
Not only did patients experience a significant reduction in their pain, 24 percent reported that their use of narcotic pain relief had dropped, and the study also showed that they required much less medical intervention in general, with a 50 percent reduction in trips to the emergency room and an 80 percent reduction in back pain procedures.
What is a Spinal Cord Stimulator?
A spinal cord stimulator is a device that is implanted in patients for whom surgery and medications have either not proven to be an effective remedy for their pain or who are not good candidates for surgery for other reasons. The device involves making a small incision through which small plastic strips containing electrodes are placed between the spinal cord and vertebrae. Those strips are connected to a battery pack that is placed under the skin. The two work together with an external remote through which the patient is able to send electrical impulses that block the pain that they are experiencing.
The device’s effectiveness stems from its ability to interrupt message to the brain about pain that is being experienced. Though earlier versions of spinal cord stimulators replaced pain with a tingling sensation, newer versions offer patients the ability to have the same effect without a perceptible sensation at all.
If our spine specialist in New Jersey recommends the spinal cord stimulator to you, the implantation will require two procedures. In the first you will have a temporary device implanted in order to determine the best placement for the device and to see whether it works. This temporary placement will provide you with a generator outside of your body, typically worn on a belt. It will allow you to see whether you derive benefit from the stimulator.
The use of the temporary device allows us to simply and painlessly remove the wires and device from those for whom it does not work. Patients who feel that their pain is cut by half or more are considered to be successful candidates for the permanent procedure, in which the device and generator will be permanently implanted.
If you are experiencing chronic pain and would like to discuss this and other potential remedies with our spine specialists, contact our office today to set up a time for a consultation.