Damaged nerves can overproduce pain signals. The stronger the signal, the stronger the pain. Chronic pain is a persistent, debilitating pain that lasts for three months or longer. It’s different from acute pain, which commonly results from injury or surgery and heals with time.
Chronic pain affects roughly 1.5 billion people worldwide, and is most commonly located in the back.
Spinal cord stimulation (SCS) is an innovative technology that addresses some of the most difficult pain problems. It is most often used for neuropathic pain, including cervical and lumbar radiculopathy, diabetic neuropathy, post-laminectomy syndrome (residual pain after back, foot, knee, groin or hip surgery), and complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS).
The first step is to determine if SCS therapy provides satisfactory pain relief and you are comfortable with the sensations of spinal stimulation. To do this, a temporary stimulator is implanted, which takes about 30 minutes and is performed on an outpatient basis.
A local anesthetic is used to numb the area before one or more lead wires are placed in the epidural space along the spinal cord. Once positioned in the best location, the wires are connected to a portable, external generator. A generator then produces mild electrical pulses that are programmed to reduce the areas of intense pain.
The trial period may last for only a few days or a week, at most. Your doctor will determine the length of time, based on your results. If your trial is successful, and you and your doctor decide that you can benefit from SCS, placement of a permanent SCS system can be scheduled. The procedure to implant the long-term device is performed by a surgeon in an outpatient setting and usually takes about an hour.
Since the system is portable, SCS makes it possible to resume many normal activities at home and at work, as well as recreational activities such as swimming, traveling, biking and gardening.
The SCS system allows you to be in control. Using a remote control, you can turn the current on or off, adjust the intensity, and quickly respond to changes in the location or severity of your pain.
Spinal cord stimulation (SCS) is a relatively new technology that can help manage chronic pain when the cause of the pain cannot be removed or the injury repaired. The SCS device consists of an electrodethat stimulates the spinal cord and spinal nerves with tiny electrical impulses.
More than 34,000 patients undergo spinal cord simulator implants each year.
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