Spinal cord stimulation is a surgical procedure that uses an implanted device to directly send low electricity levels into your spinal cord to relieve pain. It is commonly used after non-surgical pain treatment techniques have failed to give you sufficient relief. Back pain, heart pain, spinal cord injuries, nerve pain, and visceral abdominal pain are some of the conditions a Clark spinal cord stimulator can treat. Spinal cord stimulation involves two procedures, which include:
Spinal cord stimulator trial
The trial period is the first step. Your doctor implants a temporary device for you to test out. With the aid of a specific X-ray known as fluoroscopy, the doctor will keenly insert the electrodes in the epidural space of your spine. The electrodes will target the affected parts along your spine. Your surgeon can ask how you feel while positioning the electrodes in the correct location. The trial procedure requires only a single incision in the lower back to place the electrodes. You will have to wear a particular belt around your waist to hold the generator or battery.
After a week, you can determine how well the device relieves your pain. Your surgeon will render the trial procedure successful if it reduces fifty or more percent of your pain. If unsuccessful, the surgeon will carefully remove the wires without a spinal cord or nerve damage. The surgeon schedules your surgery to implant the device permanently if the trial is successful.
Spinal cord stimulator implantation
The spinal cord stimulator implantation procedure takes between one to two hours. It is an outpatient process, so it does not involve hospital admission. Your surgeon places the generator underneath your skin during the permanent implantation process. The trial electrodes are replaced with sterile electrodes, and sutures will anchor them to reduce movement.
The procedure involves local anesthesia. Your surgeon makes an incision along the abdomen or buttocks to hold the battery. Another incision along your spine allows the inserting of the permanent electrodes. The incisions are about three inches. As in the trial process, fluoroscopy defines where the electrodes are placed.
Your specialist will close the cuts once the electrodes and the generator are in place and running. The specialist will ask for your feedback during the placement of the electrodes and provides sedation to keep you comfortable.
Your doctor will take you to a recovery room after the surgical process. Once the anesthesia wears off, you can leave the health facility. The incisions may be discomforting and painful for several days after the surgery. Avoid stretching or twisting, as this can pull out the incisions. The dressings placed on the cut sites can be removed three days after surgery.
For effective recovery, follow your surgeon’s instructions. You can engage in light activities two weeks after surgery. Most patients heal entirely two to four weeks after the surgical process. After your specialist approves you for regular duties, you can return to your daily routine with the stimulator turned off.
Although rare, you can experience complications like bleeding, infection, or spinal cord trauma. If any of these happens, seek immediate medical treatment. Schedule an appointment at University Pain Medicine Center for spinal cord stimulation to permanently relieve your chronic pain.