Spinal Cord Stimulation: What to Expect

Experiencing chronic pain can take a physical and mental toll on you. If you’ve already tried various non-surgical pain management techniques with little or no success, spinal cord stimulation might be the right solution. Board-certified pain management specialist Jonathan Gentile, MD, of Indiana Spine Group often recommends spinal cord stimulation when conservative pain management techniques don’t resolve your pain.

Discover more about how spinal cord stimulation can end your chronic pain, and what you can expect from this treatment.

Understanding spinal cord stimulation

Spinal cord stimulation is a pain management treatment that helps limit pain in your legs, back, and arms. The procedure works by using a spinal cord stimulator, a small device Dr. Gentile inserts under your spine.

The spinal cord stimulator reduces your pain by sending electrical pulses that keep your brain from receiving pain signals. Dr. Gentile uses the Medtronic, Abbott, and Boston Scientific advanced SCS systems for the most advanced spinal cord stimulator pain relief.

One of the best features of a spinal cord stimulator is that you control the level of electrical stimulation you receive with a handheld controller. This allows you to easily manage your pain relief.

Will spinal cord stimulation work for me?

You might be a good candidate for spinal cord stimulation if you’re tried multiple non-surgical methods of pain relief but haven’t found a good solution. Spinal cord stimulation is a particularly good option if your pain is neuropathic.

Before committing to spinal cord stimulation, Dr. Gentile gives you a trial implantation first. This ensures spinal cord stimulation effectively relieves your pain before you commit to the surgical procedure.

The spinal cord stimulation implantation process

Dr. Gentile performs the implantation in two stages. You undergo trial spinal cord implantation, then move to permanent implantation if the trial is successful.

Trial spinal cord stimulation

You get your trial spinal cord stimulator at Indiana Spine Group under local anesthetic. During your office visit, Dr. Gentile inserts wire cords into the area surrounding your spinal cord while asking you for feedback to ensure they get placed in the correct position in your back.

The wire leads connect to your trial electrical cord stimulator, which you use for up to a week. During that time, you determine if the stimulator effectively helps you manage your chronic pain.

Permanent spinal cord stimulation

If the trial cord stimulator works for your pain management needs, Dr. Gentile moves on to permanent implantation. This minimally invasive procedure takes place under general anesthesia or IV sedation.

First, Dr. Gentile replaces your temporary wire leads with permanent ones in the same location. Next, he places the implantable pulse generator (IPG) battery in a small incision in your buttocks or abdomen.

After placing your leads and IPG, Dr. Gentile uses an external wireless programmer to program the electrical pulses. You use this to operate and control the stimulator’s electrical pulses.

You might feel some swelling and soreness initially near your incisions, but you can expect to recover quickly from the placement procedure and experience chronic pain relief almost immediately.

If you’re a chronic pain sufferer, spinal cord stimulation might be the solution you need. If you’re interested in learning more, request an appointment at Indiana Spine Group’s Carmel, Indianapolis, or Kokomo, Indiana locations online or over the phone.

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