Spinal cord stimulation is an innovative treatment option for people who suffer from chronic back pain.
The minimally invasive surgery offers an alternative for those whose neck or back pain isn’t completely managed from other treatments, like opioids. The treatment reduces side effects, offers 24/7 relief and is safe while driving.
Spinal cord stimulation may even reduce your dependency on opioids.
Let’s take a closer look.
The growing Opioid Crisis
The United States government has declared the opioid crisis a national emergency. In turn, this has brought the subject of chronic pain management into the spotlight.
For a long time, treatment for chronic pain relief has heavily relied upon opioid painkillers. However, the worrying trends in the long-term effects of addiction have sent professionals searching for alternative treatments.
For chronic long-term pain, opioids actually prove ineffective since patients often develop a tolerance and that leads to higher dosages and a potentially dangerous downward spiral. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that emergency room visits for possible opioid overdoses increased 30 percent between the period of July 2016 and September 2017.
Despite the overall pain in the country not changing, the number of opioids prescribed per patient was as much as three times higher in 2015 compared to 1999. What’s more, it is estimated that more than two million people in the United States abused prescription opioids in 2015.
As opioid dependency skyrockets, new medical devices are proving to be a drug-free alternative for patients. For those who are already addicted, spinal cord stimulation may well help alleviate the pain of withdrawal.
Spinal Cord Stimulation and Reducing the Use of Opioids
Spinal cord stimulation was designed to help stabilize or decrease opioid use in people with chronic pain. The system consists of an implanted device that works by transmitting low levels of electrical energy to your nerve fibers. In turn, this interrupts the pain signals as they travel to your brain to reduce the sensation of pain.
Researchers have already evaluated opioid usage data in more than 5,500 chronic pain patients both before and after receiving spinal cord stimulation. They found that the therapy was effective for patients at any level of opioid use prior to implantation. In fact, researchers found that the average daily opioid use either stabilized or lowered for 70 percent of patients receiving spinal cord stimulation therapy.
Furthermore, patients who had a successful implant significantly reduced their opioid use one-year post-implant. Significantly, 93 percent of patients who continued with spinal cord stimulation therapy needed much lower average daily morphine-equivalent doses.
The Success Rate of Spinal Cord Stimulation
This is one field of medicine that is rapidly changing. Spinal cord stimulation provides freedom from the buzzing or tingling sensation that often occurs with traditional therapies. It is drug-free pain relief at its best.
Best of all, the therapy offers a highly effective substitute to opioids and even traditional chronic pain therapies.
What’s more, spinal cord stimulation provides ongoing, medication-free pain management and control with a rather minor and minimally-invasive surgical procedure. Rather than taking a medication that may affect your entire body and cause side effects such as constipation, sleepiness and other problems not related to the pain, this unique form of therapy delivers pain relief just where it is needed.
Spinal cord stimulation therapy also offers an innovative benefit of being reversible. If you want to discontinue therapy at any time, the generator and wires can be removed without any permanent damage to your spine.
Getting Started with Therapy
To determine if spinal cord stimulation therapy can help alleviate your back pain, and in turn the dependency of opioids, your doctor will guide you through the initial assessment. If the assessment determines that your condition makes you a candidate for treatment, you may begin a trial period.
The trial period is similar to long-term spinal cord stimulation therapy, but the device transmitting the current is not implanted in your body; only the wires are inserted. An external transmitter then sends electrical pulses to the electrical contacts near your spine.
Once you have completed the trial period, and if the therapy has been effective, you can then proceed with a permanent stimulator implant and, hopefully, say goodbye to opioids.
Find out if you are a spinal cord stimulation therapy candidate today. Talk to the team at aCELLerated Interventional Orthopedics.