Spinal cord stimulation has been FDA approved since 1989 and has become a standard treatment for patients with chronic pain in their back and limbs who have not found pain relief from other treatments.
Spinal cord stimulation uses low voltage stimulation of the spinal nerves to block the feeling of pain. A small battery-powered generator implanted in the body transmits an electrical current to your spinal cord.
During the procedure, thin wires with electrical leads on their tips are placed through a needle in the back, close to the spinal column. A small incision is then made and the generator is placed in the upper buttock or abdomen (under the skin) which emits electrical currents to the spinal column.
The result is a tingling sensation instead of pain. By interrupting pain signals, spinal cord stimulation has shown success in returning some people to a more active lifestyle.
While spinal cord stimulation can be used to treat chronic pain from multiple sources, it does not eliminate the source of chronic pain. Instead, it interferes with the transmission of pain signals to the brain, so that the brain does not recognize the pain.
Common indications for SCS therapy include:
Failed Back Surgery Syndrome: An umbrella term that describes residual pain that persists despite multiple spine surgeries or other interventions – such as spinal manipulation or nerve blocks – to reduce back and leg pain or repair neurological deficits.
Complex Regional Pain Syndrome: A syndrome of various symptoms, most often caused by trauma, including burning pain, hyperaesthesia (increased sensitivity of any of the sense organs, especially the skin to cold, heat, pain, etc.), swelling, hyperhidrosis (excessive and profuse perspiration), and trophic changes in the skin and bone of the affected areas. Peripheral nerve stimulation may also be indicated for treatment.
Peripheral Neuropathy: Any disease/disorder of the peripheral nerves.