Spinal cord stimulation (SCS) has become a standard of care for people with chronic back and neck pain. Advances in SCS technology have allowed people with chronic spine-related pain to reduce or eliminate their need for pain medications and return to comfortable, productive lives. To better understand what you need to know before undergoing SCS,
SCS is best at treating neuropathic pain from a pinched or injured nerve, and is also good at treating mechanical back pain from such conditions as degenerative disc disease, radiculopathy (pain that radiates down an arm or leg), spinal stenosis (narrowing of the spinal canal), failed back surgery or residual pain following back surgery, and sciatica. In addition, SCS is useful in treating complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS), which is a relatively uncommon form of chronic pain.
SCS does not treat weakness or numbness and is not useful in treating pain from a bone fracture or cancer.
I recommend trying conventional treatments for at least 3 to 6 months before considering use of SCS. However, in special cases, such as patients with CRPS, SCS should be used sooner because the success rates plummet if pain persists for more than a year. This is because the pain pathways become rewired in people with have CRPS for more than one or two years, making it harder to reverse the condition.
SCS is used by pain management physicians such as anesthesiologists, physiatrists, orthopedic spine surgeons, and neurosurgeons. Also, SCS is increasingly being used by neurologists for other conditions such as occipital neuralgia (a form of severe headache), general surgeons to treat nerve pain from hernias, and cardiovascular surgeons for intercostal neuralgia (rib pain following surgery).
First of all choose a physician who is experienced with SCS and you feel you can trust, Do your home work on physicians who have treated 20 to 30 patients with SCS are considered experienced.
Also, appropriate patient selection and expectations are equally important. Each patient should undergo a SCS trial before the device is implanted to make sure that the pain is relieved by this treatment. Unfortunately, patients may be desperate for relief and request SCS implantation, even if they do not have a good response to the SCS trial. If the SCS trial is not positive, the SCS should not be implanted, and other treatments should be offered. Remember once you go ahead with the surgery along with the stimulator there is a lithium ion battery that has to go into the buttock’s and will need to be replaced in a maximum 9yr time frame depending on your usage of the stimulator meaning another surgery+ you can not lay or lean on the internal hardware.