Replace Chronic Pain With Spinal Cord Stimulation

While most doctors prescribe pills, the savvy can block the neural pain sensation.

TECHNOLOGY In today's healthcare quagmire, physicians may not always be paid as much for results as for quantifying patient visits or diagnostic procedures. After a 5-minute exam, patients can be whisked away for blood tests and radiology reports. Though this perhaps justifies a substantial bill for the insurers, it often leaves the chronic pain sufferer in no better condition.

Pick your reason: the ease of prescribing NSAIDs or the difficulty in identifying FDA-approved therapy. Most patients with chronic pain end up with little more than an envelope full of X-rays and a bag full of pain relievers. Fortunate ones may add a diagnosis to their bounty.

Knee, neck or back pain can severely hinder one's mobility. Migraines reduce concentration and work productivity. Coccydynia can impair bowl movements, sexual relations and cause pain when sitting on improperly cushioned furniture. No mater where the pain is, it can be debilitating. One's quality of life is greatly diminished. Fortunately there is an FDA-approved solution that is more common than you might think.

Spinal cord stimulation (SCS) may provide new hope. The stimulation blocks pain signals before they reach the brain and replaces them with a more pleasant sensation called paresthesia. It is estimated that as many as 50,000 neurostimulators have been implanted worldwide.

  • 84% reported that their quality of life was improved or greatly improved
  • 77% had good or excellent pain relief
  • 82% decreased their use of pain medications

A small SCS neurostimulator is surgically placed within the patient, much like a pacemaker. Thin leads (cables) deliver electrical pulses to nerves along the spinal cord. A remote control is used to adjust the strength and location of pre-programmed electrical pulses. During the trial period, an external neurostimulator is worn. This allows the patient to actually feel the results before having a smaller permanent device implanted. SCS may not work for everyone but chronic pain sufferers may consider the advantages of discussing this option with a specialist.

Tags: nerves, neurologist, neurological, pain management, surgeons