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Spinal cord stimulators

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Procedure description

Spinal cord stimulators involve implanting a neurostimulation device that assists in interrupting nerve related pain signals before your brain can register the feeling of pain. With spinal cord stimulators they are often recommended for patients who have undergone spinal surgery and are unfortunately still experiencing symptoms. This is often referred to as Failed Back Surgery Syndrome or FBSS. There different types of spinal cord stimulators available and as such it is important to ask your provider what options are available and what the pros and cons of each might be.

When to Consider

As previously mentioned, spinal cord stimulators are often reserved only for patients who have failed conservative measures and have further failed to get any relief from subsequent back surgeries. In many cases, if not for spinal cord stimulators, these patients would be referred to pain management and can often end up on long-term opiate therapy. As a means to avoid the highly addictive power of opiate pain medication, spinal cord stimulators can be considered and often produce favorable outcomes that will enhance a patient’s quality of life.

Recovery from spinal cord stimulator implant

Spinal cord stimulators are typically done with a trial period. During the trial period the patient is able to evaluate the level of relief and if it is satisfactory than the provider can move forward with permanent implantation. The good news with spinal cord stimulators is that in most cases permanent is a relative term as the permanence exists at the discretion of the patient. In other words, the implant can be removed at a later time if the relief is no longer satisfactory. The implant procedure itself typically takes 1 or 2 hours and is most commonly done in an outpatient ambulatory setting where the patient can go home the same day as the procedure.

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