For those with persistent pain, nerve stimulation can be a beneficial option. If you’re considering (or already had) spinal cord stimulator implant surgery, it's wise to understand happens after your stimulator is in place.
Pain management specialist, Brian K. Rich, MD, of aCELLerated Interventional Orthopedics, helps patients of the Southlake, Texas, and Lawton, Oklahoma community get relief from persistent pain.
With a focus on comprehensive spine care, Dr. Rich provides nerve stimulation to treat neck and back pain, as well as various other types of pain. Let’s dive into more detail about nerve stimulators, who might benefit from them, and what to anticipate after surgery.
A small generator that provides electricity and a set of thin cables called electrodes make up a nerve cord stimulator. The electrodes are surgically inserted into the epidural space, which is located between the vertebrae and the spinal cord.
The nerve stimulator operates by sending brief electrical pulses through its electrodes, and these pulses block the transmission of pain signals by the nerves.
For people whose pain responds to nerve stimulation, this implant can be life-changing. Here are some of the ways a nerve stimulator benefits patients.
Relief from chronic pain is one of the main benefits of nerve stimulation. By the time patients are referred for this type of treatment, they’ve tried other therapies without success and may have started to lose hope about finding a treatment to alleviate their pain.
When you live with chronic pain on a daily basis, you’re fully aware of how it can have a dramatic impact on many aspects of your life. By directly delivering electrical impulses to the spine, nerve stimulators prevent painful signals from entering the brain, bringing you what some patients have described as miraculous pain relief.
Many patients find that they have more energy, sleep better, and can do more when they have a nerve stimulator placed. Mobility is improved thanks to a spinal cord stimulator because you can move around without experiencing discomfort.
After having a spinal cord stimulator implanted, many patients discover they no longer need to rely on opioid painkillers to manage their symptoms. For many patients, this adjustment is a relief.
Overall, this treatment is a game-changer since it gives you more independence, a higher quality of life, and the ability to live in less pain.
It’s crucial to take it easy for the first few days following the surgery in which your nerve stimulator is placed. You’ll need to limit physical activities like twisting, stretching, and reaching overhead. The goal is to avoid disrupting your stimulator leads. Certain physical activities may detach the leads.
You should avoid lifting anything heavier than five pounds, as your body needs some time to heal. It’s normal to notice some swelling in the stimulator location. After a few days, it’s okay to go for a walk and gradually increase your physical activities.
Patients should keep in touch with our office the first few days to report any abnormal bleeding or other issues.
A few days after your temporary leads have been implanted, you return to the clinic. This appointment is to verify the location where your leads were inserted and to fine-tune your stimulation. This meeting is required in order to modify your device's settings, if necessary, to improve pain management.
People who are considered good candidates for nerve stimulation are scheduled for a trial period. If you’re scheduled or cleared for long-term therapy, that means your pain responded well to nerve stimulation during the trial. Nerve stimulation is considered a success when it reduces your pain by at least 50%.
If you’re struggling with pain despite first-line treatments, there is hope for lasting relief. To discuss this and other treatment options for chronic pain, contact the office nearest you to schedule a consultation with Dr. Rich today.