Your doctor may recommend a Spinal Cord Stimulator (SCS) system for you if:
- You have suffered with at least six months of chronic pain in the back, neck, arms, or legs;
- You are experiencing neuropathic pain;
- You have not received sufficient relief from other treatment options
The spinal cord stimulator system includes thin wires, called leads, which are placed into an area near the spinal cord, called the epidural space. The leads deliver small electrical pulses from a generator. These electrical pulses interrupt the transmission of pain signals to your brain, and may replace it with a feeling of gentle massaging, or you may simply feel a reduction in pain.
The procedure to place the trial SCS system can take place in your doctor’s office or a surgery center. During the procedure, a local anesthetic is used to numb the procedure site. You may also be given light intravenous sedation. The leads are inserted into your back with a needle, under x-ray guidance. After they are moved into the best position for your unique pain relief, based on your feedback to the doctor, they are connected to the generator. The generator is similar to a pacemaker, and is kept outside of your body during the trial period. The system also includes an external device, the controller, which allows you to regulate how the stimulation feels.
The procedure typically takes about 20 to 30 minutes. Many patients feel significant pain relief soon after they have the trial system placed.
If the SCS system helps you feel pain relief during the trial period, the leads and generator can be permanently implanted. This must take place at a hospital or surgery center. The leads can be adjusted for the best pain relief and most coverage of the painful area, while the generator is implanted in the abdomen or buttocks. The system can be removed at a later time if necessary. Studies have demonstrated that many patients continue to feel pain relief for years after the original implant.