Chronic pain develops when your body’s normal response to an injury lasts for an extended period. Ongoing and uncontrolled pain can cause problems in your overall life quality. Everyday activities like exercising, working, and eating, can become challenging; these problems can wear you down, causing further issues like depression. Usually, the nerves in your body send pain signals to the brain; this is important to prevent injury. However, when nerves are damaged, they can send pain signals even when an injury is not occurring. In such cases, your healthcare provider may recommend spinal cord stimulation Houston to mask pain signals before they reach the brain.
What is spinal cord stimulation?
Spinal cord stimulation is a relatively new technology that uses electrical pulses to manage chronic pain. For this treatment, a surgeon implants a spinal cord stimulator device beneath your skin to send low electric currents to the nerve fibers of your spinal cord. The electrical pulses modify and mask pain signals from reaching your brain, thus reducing pain. Most spinal cord stimulation devices use high frequency to mask the pain, but others use a low-frequency current to replace the pain with a tingling sensation called paresthesia.
It is essential to reckon that stimulation does not address the source of pain; it only alters the way your brain perceives it. Therefore people experience different levels of pain relief, meaning not everyone with chronic pain will benefit from spinal cord stimulation. Spinal cord stimulation aims to reduce pain by about 50 to 70%; even a tiny amount of pain reduction can improve your quality of life and limit the amount of pain medications you take.
Although this therapy helps with chronic pain, some people may find the tingling sensation unpleasant, and others experience no pain relief. For these reasons, specialists recommend trial stimulation for a week to establish if the therapy works for you. If you experience no pain relief, your surgeon can remove the trial wires, leaving no damage to the spinal cord or nerves.
Who is eligible for spinal cord stimulation?
Usually, spinal cord stimulation is considered an option for patients who have had pain in their lower leg, back, or arm for more than three months and have had spinal surgery. To determine if your pain management goals are appropriate for spinal cord stimulation, your doctor evaluates your medication regime, physical condition, and pain history. You may resort to spinal cord stimulation if:
- You can’t find pain relief with conservative treatments, including medications and physical therapy.
- The pain results from a problem that can be fixed
- Additional surgery won’t offer pain relief
- You have had a successful spinal cord stimulation trial
- You are not willing to undergo surgery due to the potential risks and long recovery
Spinal cord stimulation works best for patients during their early stages of chronic pain before a cycle of ongoing pain.
What conditions benefit from spinal cord stimulation?
Spinal cord stimulation can be used to relieve pain caused by:
- Diabetic neuropathy
- Complex regional syndrome
- Failed back surgery syndrome
- Peripheral vascular disease
- Multiple sclerosis
- Spinal cord injury
If you have chronic pain, consult your specialist at Expert Pain to establish if spinal cord stimulation is the proper treatment for you.