Spinal Cord Stimulator
A spinal cord stimulator (SCS) is a procedure that uses electrical impulses to relieve chronic pain in the arms, back, and legs. Electrical stimulation from SCS prevents the brain from receiving pain signals. Pain is often replaced with the sensation of light tingling. In addition to reducing the need for pain medications, SCS improves overall quality of life and sleep in most patients where conservative treatments have not been effective.
The procedure begins with a trial implantation, which is where the injection location is anesthetized. One or more insulated wires will then be inserted using an epidural needle through a small incision (epidural space) near the spinal cord.
Once the right location has been identified, electrodes at the end of the lead will produce electrical pulses to stimulate the nerves and block the pain signals. While this is occurring, the patient will communicate with the physician to determine where to place the stimulators for the best pain relief. Finally, the leads will be connected to an external stimulator for about one week, which will determine if SCS is effective.
After the patient and physician determine if the pain relief efforts have been successful using SCS, the system may be implanted permanently. The leads will also be removed once the trial implantation has been completed.