If you have chronic back pain that doesn’t improve despite using a range of conservative treatment options, then spinal cord stimulation could be the solution. Jimmy Henry, MD, FAAPMR, of Midwest Spine and Pain in New Albany, Ohio, is a skilled physiatrist who has specialist expertise in performing minimally invasive procedures like implanting spinal cord stimulators. Call Midwest Spine and Pain today to find out more about spinal cord stimulation.
Spinal cord stimulation is an advanced intervention for chronic pain that’s affecting your back, legs, or arms. It involves the implantation of a spinal cord stimulator, a device that delivers electrical signals to your spinal cord.
These electrical pulses interfere with the nerve activity that’s sending pain signals to your brain. It can be an effective way of controlling chronic pain that doesn’t respond to other forms of treatment. Spinal cord stimulation is particularly helpful for patients who have neuropathic pain, which originates in the nerves.
Implanting a spinal cord stimulator involves surgery, so Dr. Henry always tries more conservative approaches first. If spinal cord stimulation looks like a good option, Dr. Henry can fit you with a trial spinal cord stimulator.
The trial gives you a chance to see if spinal cord stimulation improves your pain before you commit to a permanent implant.
For the trial implantation, you’re given an anesthetic injection that numbs your lower back. Dr. Henry then inserts special, insulated leads into the epidural space surrounding your spinal cord. He uses an epidural needle or makes a tiny incision in your skin through which he passes the leads.
The leads have electrodes on the ends that transmit the electrical pulses to your nerves. To make sure the leads are in the optimal position, Dr. Henry makes a series of slight adjustments and asks you when you feel the most pain relief. Once the leads are in the most effective location, Dr. Henry connects them to an external trial spinal cord stimulator unit.
For the week following your procedure, you live with the trial stimulator to see how well it reduces your pain. You control the strength and speed of the electrical impulses, adjusting as needed to address the degree of pain you’re feeling.
After the week’s trial, you and Dr. Henry discuss whether permanent spinal cord stimulator implantation is right for you.
For the permanent implantation procedure, you have a general anesthetic or a sedative that makes you feel sleepy and relaxed. Dr. Henry replaces the temporary leads with permanent ones, ensuring they’re in the same position in your spinal canal.
He then makes a small incision in your abdomen or buttock, where he puts the implantable pulse generator (IPG) battery.
The leads connect to the IPG unit, and Dr. Henry programs the spinal cord stimulator so it’s ready for you to use. You can control the electrical impulses as you did with the trial version, using a remote device.
When you wake up, the surgery site may feel a little sore, but this should pass within a few days. Most patients adjust to having a spinal cord stimulator within a short time.
If your chronic pain condition isn’t responding to a comprehensive treatment plan, spinal cord stimulation could provide the relief you need. Find out more by calling Midwest Spine and Pain today, or heading over to Learn More!