Innovative Treatments For Chronic Pain
Chronic back pain can affect a person’s ability to perform a job or household duties effectively. Finding ways to dull the pain is always top of mind for chronic back pain sufferers. Conventional therapies for chronic back pain can quickly prove ineffective compared to newer and better treatment options. Spinal cord stimulation is an innovative and exciting treatment for chronic back pain.
What are spinal cord stimulators?
Spinal cord stimulators are tiny, battery-powered devices that resemble a pacemaker, but block pain signals from reaching the brain. Spinal cord stimulators are surgically implanted into the skin. Thin wires carry gentle electrical currents to the nerve fibers of the spinal cord. Patients can control the device through remote control to block, not eliminate, back pain signals.
How do spinal cord stimulators work?
Electrodes placed in the spinal cord receive electrical pulses that interrupt the aching, stabbing, and sharp back pain signals. Instead, patients may feel a slight tingling and numbness called paresthesia. Some high-frequency devices can mask the pain with minimal or no tingling sensation. While stimulators won’t fix the back pain, the electrical signals can reduce the pain by at least half.
Test driving the treatment
Spinal cord stimulators aren’t for everyone. Some patients may experience considerable relief that improves the overall quality of life. At the same time, another person may get no relief at all or find the tingling sensation too much to handle. Doctors recommend a spinal cord stimulation trial for a week. Trying the device won’t damage the spinal cord or the nerves.
Choosing between spinal cord stimulators
Patients can choose from a variety of spinal cord stimulating devices. Still, each comes with a few similar features: a pulse generator with a battery, a lead wire with many electrodes, and a hand-held remote to control the device. Devices with non-rechargeable batteries must be replaced every 2-5 years. Rechargeable systems can last up to 10 years with daily charging. Other systems can detect changes in body position to modulate stimulation levels.
Are you a candidate?
Patients can schedule an appointment with a doctor to determine if spinal cord stimulation is an appropriate treatment method. Patients who have experienced minimal relief from conservative therapies or would not experience relief from additional surgery may be a candidate for spinal cord stimulation. The device can stop chronic pain caused by sciatica, failed back surgery syndrome, arachnoiditis, complex regional pain syndrome, and other sources of pain. For more information, speak with a spine specialist.