According to Los Angeles spine surgeons, for more than a quarter-century, spinal cord stimulation has been a standard treatment option for patients with chronic pain. Many patients who undergo the procedure report anywhere from a 50 to 70 percent reduction in their physical discomfort. A new study suggests that SCS may also reduce the brain’s emotional response to pain.
Altering Pain Perception
SCS may affect how pain is perceived in certain areas of the brain in people with chronic pain. In a study involving a small group of patients with chronic leg pain, Ohio researchers were able to support previous suggestions that emotional, sensory, and cognitive factors also influence how pain is felt.
Understanding Neural Networks
Researchers focused on a highly interactive region of the brain known as the default mode network that’s associated with the emotional and cognitive aspects of pain. In patients with chronic pain, there is a noticeable difference in activity level in the DMN, suggesting it’s somehow impacted by persistent pain.
The Role of SCS
Scientists were able to map the areas of the brain that seem to be affected by impulses released by the implanted device used with SCS using MRI scans. The reason why such stimulation is effective for some patients isn’t fully known, although researchers hope that understanding how the DMN region of the brain reacts to pain can lead to advances in pain control.
If a patient is determined to be an ideal candidate for SCS, they will go through a trial stimulation period, usually lasting for a week. If they experience at least a 50 percent reduction in their pain, the device, which is placed under the skin along with leads to deliver the low-level current, will be used long-term. The level and frequency of the electrical impulses delivered is preset at first and then later controlled by the patient.
Learn more about minimally invasive spine treatments from Dr. Hyun Bae in Los Angeles. Dr. Bae is a conservative spine surgeon and the medical director of The Spine Institute Center for Spinal Restoration who can walk you through all possible treatment options for your chronic back pain. For more information, call (310) 828-7757 today and schedule your consultation.