Spinal Cord Stimulation
Spinal cord stimulation is a treatment method for patients with chronic pain. The technique utilizes electrical stimulation to the spinal cord, replacing the sensation of pain with a gentle tingling sensation. A trial with an external stimulator is conducted first, and the patient must be awake for this procedure to help the doctor determine the position of the device for optimal pain relief. Using x-ray guidance, a needle is placed near the spinal cord allowing electrodes to be inserted, and the wires are connected to the external stimulator. The stimulation strength can be controlled by the patient with the external control, and the device can be turned on and off. If the trial is successful and pain relief is achieved, permanent implantation can be performed by a neurosurgeon. Pain is not cured by a spinal cord stimulator; however, there will usually be a decrease in pain of at least 50%, allowing patients to significantly reduce the use of opioid pain medications.