Center for Pain Management Provides Spinal Cord Stimulation Therapy, a Non-Surgical Treatment for Back Pain Relief
Spinal Cord Stimulation Therapy in Wilmington, NC
Chronic pain often times takes control over a patient’s life. It can interfere with almost all aspects of life — simple things like taking a walk, watching a movie, or lifting a small child up for a hug can become impossible due to pain. Spinal cord stimulation therapy has helped thousands of people around the world regain control over their pain, and in doing so has given them the ability to pursue many of the activities that they had long ago given up due to pain.
How does Spinal Cord Stimulation work?
Spinal cord stimulation (SCS) uses a small device that is implanted under the skin to send low voltage signals directly to the spinal cord, where the signals are then relayed to the brain. Instead of feeling their pain, patients generally feel a pleasant massaging or “tingling” sensation when the stimulation is occurring. Patients control of the amount of stimulation with a small “remote control” and can turn it on and off depending on how frequently they experience pain. SCS doesn’t eliminate the source of the pain, and it typically does not completely “eliminate” the pain. The goal with spinal cord stimulation is to reduce the pain and improve the patient’s function and quality of life. Only the patient can determine whether or not SCS provides “meaningful relief”.
In order to tell whether SCS is the “right fit” for a patient, a trial is planned.
Before the trial, most insurance companies require a one-time evaluation with a pain psychologist trained in pain management. During the trial, a temporary version of the permanent system is placed in the mid-back region. The procedure is usually done without any incisions at all, and can often times be accomplished in a physician’s office. During the trial patients get to experience the exact sensations that will be felt with a permanent SCS. In general, a “successful” trial lasts about one week, and provides 50-75% relief in a patient’s pain.
If the SCS trial is successful, a permanent system is implanted. This is an outpatient procedure that is done at a hospital or surgicenter, and involves the placement of one or two “leads” (wires to deliver electricity) and a battery (either rechargeable or non-rechargeable depending on patient preference). Two small incisions are made to accommodate the SCS system beneath the skin.
Recovery after the SCS implantation is generally rapid, and patients are back to full activities within 6 to 8 weeks. Some restrictions with twisting and bending are required at first, but as time passes these restrictions are lessened.
Recent studies of SCS show good to excellent long-term relief in 60-70% of patients suffering with chronic pain. Some patients are even able to eliminate narcotic medications, and others have ended months or years of disability and have re-entered the work force.
Doctor Knab and Doctor Arora at Center for Pain Management were the first in North Carolina to implant the “newest” version of spinal cord stimulation therapy called Nevro HF-10 (HF-10 stands for High-Frequency 10,000 Hz stimulation) after approval by the FDA in 2015. This form of stimulation is delivered at such high frequency that patients do not feel any of the typical “tingling” associated with lower frequency spinal cord stimulator systems.
Spinal cord stimulation is not right for every type of pain. If you are wondering whether you are a candidate for this procedure please contact our office for more information!