Leg and back pain is a potentially debilitating condition, especially when it’s the result of a serious spinal injury.
What’s more, arm and neck pain can be just as disabling.
Whether you’ve suffered a sudden fall that resulted in a herniated disc or were involved in a car accident that led to a fractured vertebra, the resulting discomfort and pain can affect your daily functioning.
Thankfully, modern medicine offers an array of treatments to correct spinal injuries and relieve back pain. One such option is spinal cord stimulation.
What Is Spinal Cord Stimulation?
With spinal cord stimulation, a tiny stimulator, similar to a pacemaker, is implanted under the skin.
The stimulator delivers mild electrical pulses to your spine. You will feel a slight tingling in the area affect by the pain.
The system is made up of several components, which include:
Leads – small medical wires that deliver the stimulation to the space near your spine.
Neurostimulator device – the small device that’s implanted just beneath your skin, either in your abdomen or upper buttock.
Handheld programmer – this is a small device, much like a remote control, that you can use to change how the device works based on your levels of pain.
Physician programmer – a specialized computer that remains at your doctor’s office, allowing him or her to set your stimulation levels and adjust as needed.
Spinal cord stimulation provides pain relief by adapting pain messages before they get the chance to reach your brain.
The stimulator works to send electrical pulses to your brain faster than the pain signals can get to the brain.
Are You a Candidate for Spinal Cord Stimulation?
Almost 35,000 patients around the world undergo spinal cord stimulation each year. But, are you a candidate for treatment?
If you suffer from one or more of the below conditions, you may just be a candidate:
Chronic neck pain – this may be combined with arm pain
Back pain – acute, chronic or neuropathic pain in the back may also be combined with leg pain
Complex regional pain syndrome – this syndrome can be identified by severe swelling and pain
Arachnoiditis – excruciating inflammation of the protective layers of your spinal nerves
Refractory angina – devastating chest pain even though you are on medication
Peripheral neuropathy – numbness, weakness and a constant burning pain that is a result of nerve damage, mostly felt in the hands and feet
Interestingly, one of the most common reasons a spinal cord stimulation is used is for a general condition called failed back surgery syndrome. The syndrome refers to chronic pain that is experienced after one or more neck or back surgeries fail to alleviate your persistent lower back and leg pain, or even arm pain.
If you do fit the criteria for spinal cord stimulation, your doctor will arrange for a trial period to see how well the therapy eases your pain.
When Spinal Cord Stimulation Is Not Ideal
You need to keep in mind that this type of treatment is not for every patient. Typically, it is not recommended if you have:
A skin infection at the site where the device must be implanted
A systemic infection, such as flu
Untreated bleeding disorders
A demand-type pacemaker that monitors the rhythm of your heart
Untreated drug addiction issues
A psychiatric condition, such as severe depression, that may contribute to your pain
Chronic pain is neither normal nor something you should have to live with, and if you are a candidate, a spinal cord stimulation may be just the answer to alleviating your pain and helping you have a better quality of life.
Talk to Dr. Brian K. Rich at aCellerated Interventional Orthopedics today to find out if you are a spinal cord stimulation candidate and how treatment could help improve the quality of your life.