There’s no getting around the fact that chronic pain is hard to manage. No matter what causes your chronic pain, conventional treatments seldom reduce the pain enough to make you comfortable or they only keep the pain at bay for a short time.
That’s where interventional medicine can help. David Lanzkowsky, MD, at Centennial Medical Group specializes in treatments that precisely target the source of your pain, delivering substantial pain relief when conventional treatments fail.
One such treatment, spinal cord stimulation, prevents pain messages from reaching your brain. This treatment provides effective pain relief for many patients. Most importantly, the relief is long-lasting because you can keep the device implanted as long as you need it.
Here’s some information about how these devices work and the criteria we use to determine if spinal cord stimulation is a good choice for you.
Spinal cord stimulators deliver a type of treatment called neurostimulation. To do this, the device has three pieces: a pulse generator, lead wires, and a controller.
We use a needle-like device to gently guide the lead wires through the epidural space surrounding your spinal cord. The tip of each lead wire has electrodes that we position next to the nerves relaying pain signals.
The other end of the lead wires connects to the pulse generator. We implant this part under your skin, usually near the top of your buttocks.
You turn the device on and off using the controller. As long as it’s on, the pulse generator sends low-level electrical currents into the spinal nerves.
The electrical currents disrupt the pain signals going through the nerves, preventing them from reaching your brain. If your brain doesn’t get the signals, you can’t perceive or feel the pain.
Spinal cord stimulation may be a good choice if you have a condition that’s treatable with this technique. Luckily, spinal cord stimulators can help many conditions.
Sensory nerves throughout your body detect pain signals and transmit those signals along the nerve, through the spinal cord, and to your brain. Because spinal cord stimulators target the spinal nerves, they can disrupt pain signals from anywhere in your body, including your neck and back, addressing conditions such as:
This list isn’t comprehensive, so talk with us to learn if your condition might benefit from spinal cord stimulation.
Though the cause of your pain is one important aspect, other criteria also help us determine if you’re a good candidate for a spinal cord stimulator:
Spinal cord stimulators treat chronic pain, which is pain that has lasted three months or longer.
We don’t recommend spinal cord stimulators as the first line of treatment. You only qualify if you’ve already tried conventional treatments like pain medication and physical therapy without getting sufficient pain relief.
You may also be a good candidate if you can’t have or don’t want surgery. Maybe you already had surgery and still have pain, or you can’t have surgery due to the type of condition or your overall health. Or you may not want surgery after considering the risks and outcomes.
In all these circumstances, spinal cord stimulation is a good option that may relieve your pain enough to postpone or prevent surgery.
Spinal cord stimulators are unique from other treatments because you can give them a test run. During your trial, we insert the lead wires, but you wear the pulse generator around your waist. Then you can use it for a week to discover how spinal cord stimulation works for you.
If the device significantly relieves your pain, we go ahead and implant the pulse generator beneath the skin. If you decide you don’t want it, we easily remove the wires and recommend a different treatment.
To learn more about spinal cord stimulation, call Centennial Medical Group or book an appointment online through our patient portal today.