Exhaust All Other Options
Though it is a simple procedure, having a spinal cord stimulator implanted is major decision. All surgeries are invasive, and no matter how routine, risks and complications are always a possibility. Before considering a spinal cord stimulator, one should exhaust all other options.
What Is A Spinal Cord Stimulator
A spinal cord stimulator is a surgically implanted device that sends electrical current to the spinal cord. The current interferes with the nerve signals that create pain and replace it with a tingling sensation. Stimulators are used to treat chronic pain of the back and extremities. They can be used to manage conditions such as Complex Regional Pain Syndrome, radicular and neuropathic pain, unsuccessful back surgery, degenerative disk disease and even multiple sclerosis. The stimulator is control by an external device that straps around the waist. The stimulator is implanted under the skin of the abdomen or buttocks and small coated wires, or leads, are inserted into the spinal canal.
Why Get A Spinal Cord Stimulator?
Spinal cord stimulation is considered when other therapies have failed to manage pain. These therapies may include pain medications, chiropractic care, physical therapy and acupuncture. Spinal cord stimulators may even be suggested after surgery has failed. Before the actual surgery, a trial is performed to evaluate the patient’s response to the stimulator and assess the improvement in pain reduction and increased function. The trial lasts for three to five days. Risks include infection, bleeding, bruising and nerve damage.
Is It Worth It?
The pulse strength of the spinal cord stimulator is determined by the patient and their physician. A typical schedule may be to use for one to two hours, three to four times per day. Like any surgical procedure, there are consequences. Any initial pain relief diminishes with time because the body builds up a tolerance. Pain may spread beyond the stimulator’s capacity. Scar tissue may develop around the electrodes, creating more pain. The electrodes may break or the hardware may fail. Infection, leakage of spinal fluid and nerve damage may occur, resulting in headaches and bladder dysfunction. The batteries must be replaced every two to five years. After the implant, patients will no longer be able to receive any procedure that exposes them to electromagnetic stimulation such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or therapeutic ultrasound. Due to the potential risks and complications, people should seriously consider the consequences. Having a spinal cord stimulator is a commitment that requires upkeep and attention and people should be aware that even though it may help relieve their pain, the relief may not be permanent and they should exhaust all other conservative options first.
Austin, Texas is where Peter Wendt calls home. He has been researching and writing for several years in the Lone Star state. If you would like to find out more about this topic, Peter encourages his readers to visit his website at http://www.austinpaindoctor.com/