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Pain and Debilitating Conditions

Spinal Cord and Peripheral Nerve Stimulators

A spinal cord or peripheral nerve stimulator is an implantable medical device used in pain management services. If your chronic pain condition isn’t responding to other forms of treatment, your interventional pain management physician may prescribe a spinal cord or peripheral nerve stimulator. Our pain management physician at our facility can help determine if stimulation is the right treatment for you. Individual results may vary, but most patients find that this form of treatment makes their pain more manageable and allows them to gain the pain relief they need to return to a better quality of life.

How Spinal Cord and Peripheral Nerve Stimulation is used to Treat Pain
Spinal cord stimulators send mild electrical impulses to the epidural space on the dura of the spinal cord. These impulses alter the perception of pain by replacing pain with a good sensation. Patients who seek spinal cord or peripheral nerve stimulation for pain management will first undergo a trial period for about five to seven days. If the patient and pain management physician determine that this form of treatment is effective, then a permanent procedure will be planned.

  • Spinal Cord Stimulation Trial Procedure: To initiate the trial period, a temporary procedure will be administered. Under fluoroscopic guidance, the injection site will be anesthetized and one or two insulated wire leads will be inserted through an epidural needle into the epidural space. Electrodes at the end of the lead produce electrical pulses that block pain signals. Intra-operative programming will determine proper positioning of the lead electrodes. Once proper placement is attained, the lead is secured and then connected to an external generator, which will be used for approximately one week.
  • Permanent Stimulation Procedure: If the above trial is successful, then the system may be permanently implanted. A small incision is made to allow permanent leads to be positioned by an epidural needle or through a laminectomy approach. Once proper positioning is determined, the leads are secured and an implantable pulse generator battery is placed beneath the skin, frequently above the buttocks or the lower abdomen. Then, the permanent lead(s) is connected to the generator. Patients sometimes may be provided an external control unit to make any adjustment to optimize pain control.

There are a few precautions to keep in mind if you undergo this advanced form of treatment. You will be advised to avoid physically demanding activities and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) devices. Those travelling in an airport may be required to carry an authorized note explaining the implant so they can get through security check points. Also, it is recommended that patients turn off their system before they enter or exit retail stores with certain security systems, as they can sometimes alter stimulation levels. To see if you are a good candidate for spinal cord or peripheral nerve stimulation treatment services, please contact our pain management facility today.