Significant progress has been made in our understanding of how pain is perceived and how the nervous system responds to different pain management approaches. As a result, novel devices are available that offer many people much-needed relief and an improved quality of life.
Neuromodulation is a fast-evolving area of medicine that involves using electricity or medicine to modify the nervous system. In pain management, a neuromodulation device works by delivering either a weak electric current or a small dose of medication to interrupt pain signals.
Stuart Hough, MD, Ramani Peruvemba, MD, and the team at Pain Management Specialists use neuromodulation to treat chronic pain syndromes. In this blog, they explain what neuromodulation is and how it might be able to help you.
Therapeutic neuromodulation is the alteration of nerve activity through targeted delivery of a stimulus, such as electricity or medication, to specific neurological sites in the body. The aim of altering the nerve activity is to provide pain relief.
Spinal cord stimulation (SCS) and intrathecal pump therapy are two common examples of neuromodulation.
Spinal cord stimulation is one of the most common forms of neuromodulation used to treat chronic pain. With this treatment, a very thin wire is positioned just outside the spinal cord.
The wire is connected to a tiny pulse generator, which is implanted just below the skin's surface, usually just above the buttocks. The pulse generator delivers low-voltage electrical impulses through the wire, which disrupts the pain signals as they travel to the brain, thereby giving relief.
An intrathecal pump is a device that delivers medication directly into the spinal fluid surrounding the spinal cord. Because the medication avoids being broken down by the digestive system as is done when a pill is taken, this method enables a drug to be administered in much lower doses. Smaller doses may result in fewer side effects, more comfortable treatment, and a higher quality of life.
The system consists of a pump and a thin tube, called a catheter. The pump — which contains medicine — is implanted near your spinal cord, and the medicine goes through the tube and into your spinal cord. The medicine is released at a specified strength and amount until the reservoir in the pump needs to be refilled.
Most patients undergo a trial period before the device is implanted permanently. The goal of the trial period, which typically lasts 3-10 days, is to determine if the device is effective at relieving your pain and whether you’re comfortable with how it works and feels.
Neuromodulation is usually used to treat chronic pain issues that haven’t been helped with more conservative methods. Conditions that are often considered for neuromodulation include the following:
Of the different forms of neuromodulation, spinal cord stimulation is the most common and is most often used to treat persistent, severe neuropathic pain.
Don’t put off getting help for chronic pain, especially if your current treatment is failing to adequately manage your pain. To learn how neuromodulation may be able to help you, call or book online with Pain Management Specialists today.