Have you ever wished you could turn down the intensity of your chronic pain? What if you could? Just like using a remote for your TV, there are medical devices that can be controlled with a remote to minimize pain signals. Spinal cord stimulation (SCS) technology offers chronic pain management for those with certain types of back, hip or leg pain.
How Does SCS Work?
The spinal cord stimulation device involves utilizing electrical pulses to interrupt pain signals that are sent to the brain via the spinal cord. Electrical nerve stimulation has been used for decades – small pulses of electricity can interfere with nerve signals and minimize pain sensation. Devices like TENS units have been used to apply electrical pulses from the outside the body to help with pain. SCS is more precise, directing the pulses to the exact nerves sending the pain signals to the brain.
With an SCS, probes are placed near the nerve roots that transmit the pain signals to the spinal cord and brain. The electrical pulses are sent by a battery device implanted into the patient (similar to a pacemaker), which is controlled by a remote outside the body. When a patient is experiencing pain, they can send pulses to the probes to relieve their pain. The intensity of the pulses can be controlled, increasing as needed. Once the pain dissipates, the patient can use the remote to stop the pulses.
Who Is a Good Candidate for SCS?
SCS is a pain management option for many people who have chronic pain that is not well controlled with other treatment options. At DOCS Health, we offer many treatments like SCS that can reduce the need for harmful pain medications like opiates. SCS offers pain management for many types of general pain. Some spinal and nerve conditions that may benefit from SCS include:
- Failed back surgery syndrome or post laminectomy pain
- Phantom limb pain
- Diabetic neuropathy
- Spinal stenosis
- Degenerative disc disease (DDD)
Patients with pain that has not responded to injection therapy, surgery or other treatments may find relief with SCS. This therapy option can reduce pain by up to 50% or more, which can greatly improve quality of life for those with chronic pain.
Patients who are determined to be good candidates for SCS can be recommended for an SCS trial. Before implanting the battery device, it is vital to ensure that the patient will benefit from the therapy. A spinal cord stimulation trial requires a minimally invasive procedure to implant probes near the nerve roots that are sending pain signals to the spinal cord. The battery is left outside the body but attached to the probes or leads.
During the SCS trial, which usually lasts about a week, the patient will have a remote to control the electrical impulses of the battery to the probes. The battery and probes are taped and held in place. If the patient experiences beneficial pain management from the device, they may be considered for an SCS implantation.
The SCS battery is about the size of a silver dollar and can be comfortably and discreetly inserted under the skin. The procedure is an outpatient, minimally invasive surgery with only a small incision to place the implant. The battery can last for several years before it requires replacement. Many patients have long-lasting pain relief with the SCS procedure, improving their quality of life.
If you have chronic pain that has not been successfully managed with other treatments, come see us at DOCS Health in Beverly Hills, CA. We offer spinal cord stimulation trials and procedures for reducing chronic pain. Call our office to schedule your SCS consultation.