Spinal cord stimulation can be used to treat a variety of conditions, most commonly chronic low back and leg pain, especially neuropathic pain (also known as nerve pain).
When medication, injection and/or surgery fail to treat chronic low back and leg pain, an implanted spinal cord stimulator may provide pain relief.
A neurostimulator is a small, rechargeable, battery-powered device that is similar to a pacemaker. It is implanted under the skin, typically in the flank or upper buttocks.
A neurostimulator uses mild electrical impulses to stimulate the nerves in the spine, disrupting pain signals to the brain and providing pain relief.
The patient controls the duration and the intensity of neurostimulation, depending on their activity and movement needs, in order to maximize pain relief. The patient uses a remote control unit to manage the amount of neurostimulation. The device tracks the patient’s use, allowing their physician to monitor and adjust treatment as needed.
An evaluation by a pain physician is required for having a neurostimulator implanted.
The implant procedure is done in an outpatient setting, allowing those receiving a neurostimulator to go home the same day. The implanted neurostimulator is MRI compatible. It may be felt as a bump under the skin, but it usually can’t be seen through clothes.
At first, patients typically try the neurostimulator for five to seven days, during which the battery is taped to their back. If they have good results, the battery is later implanted underneath the skin.
People who have a neurostimulator implanted also may take part in other pain treatments, such as physical therapy or chiropractic care.