For more than 25 years, spinal cord stimulation has provided relief for patients suffering from chronic back pain. While SCS doesn’t work for everyone with persistent back pain, some patients report as much as a 70 percent reduction in discomfort from the treatment.
How SCS Works
SCS is a form of neuro stimulation in which thin wires with electrical leads are placed into the affected areas of the back near the spine. The small leads are placed through a needle that’s inserted into the skin. An incision is only required for the programmable generator that’s placed in the abdomen or upper buttock under the skin. Electrical currents are then delivered as programmed to the spinal column.
Fooling the Brain
The purpose of SCS is to essentially fool the brain into perceiving pain differently. The electrical currents create a pleasant sensation that changes the brain’s interpretation of the pain signals being received. The implanted control device can be adjusted to deliver electrical stimulation at a rate that works best for a patient’s pain. With newer devices, patients can control settings themselves after initial settings are programmed.
Ideal Candidates for SCS
Preferred candidates for SCS are patients who have tried other treatments for persistent back pain, including traditional spinal fusion surgery and non-surgical treatments, without success. It’s important to note that SCS or any other neurostimulation treatment does not address the source of chronic back pain or underlying sources of the discomfort. SCS only affects the pain signals sent to the brain.
Patients who quality for SCS are sometimes able to reduce their dependence on prescription medications to control their back pain or stop taking painkillers altogether. Chronic back pain patients may also benefit from peripheral nerve field stimulation, a related treatment involving the placement of leads under the skin near the affected area of the back.
Learn more about your options for chronic back pain relief by calling The Spine Institute at (310) 828-7757. Our experienced board-certified spine surgeons can determine the root of your pain and identify all possible treatment options. Reach out today.