Spinal Cord Stimulation

Spinal cord stimulation (SCS) is used in patients with chronic back or limb pain who have not experienced pain relief from other treatments. FDA-approved since 1989, SCS is now a standard treatment.

Spinal cord stimulation operates by blocking the pain sensation with the use of a low voltage stimulation of the nerves. It is a system that works by surgically implanting a pulse generator under the skin. A small wire then delivers the current from the generator. Pain is reduced due to the electrical current interrupting the nerve pain signal from reaching the brain. Initially, a trail stimulator is tested on a patient with use of local anesthesia to determine if the system is effective for that person. If it is successful, the patient can receive permanent implantation.

Most often, the SCS procedure is done in a surgery center or hospital on an outpatient basis. It takes about one to three hours with patients often returning home the same day. The desired results include pain reduction and the possibility of reducing or even eliminating medications. Although SCS is not a complete cure for back pain, the goal is to reduce that pain by 50 to 70 percent.

SCS can help lessen chronic pain caused by:

  • Arachnoiditis: inflammation of the “arachnoid” – one of the meninges (membrane) surrounding and protecting the nerves of the central nervous system
  • Complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS): chronic and burning pain that usually occurs in an arm or leg and is often the result of an injury, stroke, heart attack or surgery
  • Chronic leg (sciatica) or arm pain: persistent pain due to nerve damage or from chronic conditions, such as spinal stenosis or arthritis
  • Failed back surgery syndrome: new or persistent pain after spine surgery (not from a failure of the actual surgery)
  • Other conditions: pain from multiple sclerosis, spinal cord injury and more

Beneficiaries of Spinal Cord Stimulators

Spinal cord stimulation is usually performed for those who have experienced pain for a year or longer with pain that has not responded to conservative therapies (such as medication and exercise) and for whom surgery is not indicated. It is an option in cases where the source of pain is clearly indicated and the patient has no medical conditions that would prevent the implantation procedure.

Back Pain Treatment At The CMD

At The Center For Musculoskeletal Disorders, our physicians provide spinal cord stimulation implantation after other conservative treatments have been exhausted.

Our pain management and surgical team work together to provide the best possible care to our patients.