When Should You Consider Spinal Cord Stimulation?
Spinal cord stimulation is used after nonsurgical pain treatment options have failed to provide adequate relief. Spinal cord stimulators may be used to treat or manage different types of chronic pain. This treatment is a great option for those who are experiencing chronic, debilitating pain symptoms, especially neuropathic pain.
If you are suffering and would like to return to a more active lifestyle while avoiding becoming dependent on narcotics, or a more invasive surgical alternative, this may be the best treatment option for you.
Patients selected for SCS usually have had chronic debilitating pain for more than 3 months in the lower back, leg (sciatica), or arm. They also typically have had one or more spinal surgeries.
You may be a candidate for SCS if:
– Conservative therapies have failed and/or you would not benefit from additional surgery.
– The pain is caused by a correctable problem and should be fixed.
– You do not want further surgery due to risks or long recovery.
– Sometimes SCS may be chosen over a large, complex spine surgery.
– You do not have untreated depression or drug addiction; these should be treated prior to having a SCS.
– You have no medical conditions that would keep you from undergoing implantation.
Long term treatment option for your chronic pain
- Peripheral Neuropathy
- Radiating Pain In Legs & Feet
- Failed Back Surgery Syndrome
- Post-Surgical Pain
- Spinal Stenosis
- Spinal Arthritis
- Chronic Back Pain
Advantages Over Other Chronic Pain Treatments
- Opiate free
- Fast pain reduction results
- Effective in treating neuropathic pain
- Minimal side effects, well tolerated by most people
- Less invasive than most other surgical options
- Minimal down time after surgery
- Long term pain reduction results
- Works on pain where other treatments failed
This treatment is a safe and effective option that is proven to help those with debiliating chronic pain when other treatment options failed. Spinal cord stimulators are fully covered by Medicare and most insurance providers.
Spinal Cord Stimulator Implant
Spinal cord stimulators consist of thin electrodes and a small, battery pack. The electrodes are placed between the spinal cord and the vertebrae, the battery pack is implanted under the skin. Spinal cord stimulators allow patients to send the electrical impulses using a remote control when they feel pain. Both the remote control and the receiver antenna are outside the body.
Spinal cord stimulators interrupt the pain signals sent to the brain by using electrical signals to reduce the sensation of pain.
Spinal Cord Stimulator Procedure
Step One – The Trial Period.
Trial stimulation is a “test drive” to determine if an SCS will work for the type, location, and severity of your pain. It is performed in an outpatient clinic or center.
A local anesthetic is given to numb the area in the lower back. Using X-ray fluoroscopy, a hollow needle is inserted through the skin into the epidural space between the bone and spinal cord. The trial lead is inserted and positioned over specific nerves. The wires are attached to an external generator that is secured to your back.
After 5 to 7 days, you will return to the doctor’s office for removal of the trial leads and to discuss whether permanently implanting the stimulator is the right option for you.
Step Two – Implanting The Permanant Spinal Cord Stimulator
If the trial is successful and you felt greater than 50% improvement in pain, surgery can be scheduled to implant the spinal cord stimulator device in your body.
The electrode leads are inserted with the aid of fluoroscopy (a type of X-ray). The leads are usually placed through the skin, similar to the trial procedure and then tunneled under your skin for permanent placement. The leads are positioned in the epidural space above the spinal cord and secured with sutures. The leads do not directly touch your spinal cord.
Once the lead electrodes are in place, the wire is passed under the skin from the spine to the buttock, where the generator will be implanted.
A small skin incision is made below the waistline in your flank area. The surgeon creates a pocket for the generator beneath the skin. The lead wire is
attached to the pulse generator. The generator is then correctly positioned within the skin pocket. The incisions are closed with sutures and skin glue. A dressing is applied.
Step Three – Post Surgery Guidelines, the First 2 Weeks
- Do not bend, lift, twist your back or reach overhead for the next 6 weeks. This is to prevent the leads from moving out of place until it heals.
- Don’t lift anything heavier than 5 pounds.
- No strenuous activity, including housework, yardwork and sex
- Don’t drive until your follow-up appointment.
- Don’t drink alcohol. It thins the blood and increases the risk of bleeding. Also, don’t mix alcohol with pain medicines.
Meet Our Medical Director: Dr. Lucy Hostetter
Dr. Hostetter is a nationally-recognized board certified, fellowship-trained anesthesiologist who built her career specializing in orthopedic and spine surgery with an expertise in regional anesthesia. She brings her expert needling techniques, along with her passion for innovative pain treatment strategies to the field of regenerative medicine, providing stem cell therapy in Seattle.
After earning her MD from the UCLA School of Medicine, Dr. Hostetter completed her anesthesiology residency at Virginia Mason Medical Center. After residency, she was awarded the Moore-Bridenbaugh Regional Anesthesia Research Fellowship, where she honed her interest and skill in pain management through training anesthesia residents and researching alternate ways to treat acute pain.
Regenerative Medicine and Joint Preservation
Dr. Hostetter settled in Seattle and has diligently worked to establish herself as an expert in regenerative cell therapy and joint preservation. Dr. Hosteter is committed to regenerative medicines ability to restore orthopedic function, rejuvenate mental and emotional vitality, and relieve pain without relying on opioid drugs.
“While I have a deep love for the practices of surgery and anesthesiology, I am excited to offer patients an alternative to surgery … a means to repair and restore themselves back to the life they want, doing what they love to do, without the pain and trauma of surgery. This is the direction all of medicine should be going … to help the body heal itself”