When you continue to suffer from ongoing, debilitating back pain despite conventional treatment, it’s time to consider a spinal cord stimulator. Stuart Hough, MD, and Ramani Peruvemba, MD, at Pain Management Specialists in Rockville and Frederick, Maryland, have helped many patients find relief from pain, and they each have over 20 years of experience using spinal cord stimulation. To learn whether you’re a good candidate, schedule an appointment online or call one of the offices today.
Spinal cord stimulators are devices similar to heart pacemakers that use a mild electrical impulse to interrupt abnormal pain signals travelling through the spinal cord to the brain. These devices have been in use since the 1970s and have undergone several refinements over the years to make them safer and more effective when used by experts like the interventional pain physicians at Pain Management Specialists. This treatment is a type of neuromodulation, a group of treatments that use electrical stimulation to treat pathological dysfunctions of the nervous system. Other types of neuromodulation include Dorsal Root Ganglion stimulation for nerve pain and deep brain stimulation for Parkinson’s disease and severe depression.
When nerves are damaged, a sort of short-circuiting of normal nervous system pain pathways may occur, such that what should be normal sensations of touch or pressure are misinterpreted as being painful. These painful sensations persist even without any ongoing tissue damage, and they may never go away. Certain pain medications can dull the pain of nerve damage, but nothing has been proven to be as effective as Spinal Cord Stimulation, which actually restores normal or near normal behavior of the damaged nerves. There is even some evidence that that patients may experience improvements in sensation as a result of spinal cord stimulation.
The Pain Management Specialists team has witnessed remarkable advances in these technologies in the last five years and has been on the forefront of offering the latest proven spinal cord stimulation technologies to patients. They are among very few interventional pain management practices in the area to perform both spinal cord stimulator trial and implantation procedures, so their patients do not need to separately see a surgeon for the implantation procedure. In addition, since they use only the types of spinal cord stimulator leads that are inserted through needles, the devices they implant can be fully removed. The type of leads that most surgeons implant often cannot be easily or safely taken out.
The team at Pain Management Specialists recommends spinal cord stimulation to help patients manage pain without having to take strong medications like addictive opioids. Spinal cord stimulation can relieve pain caused by:
Spinal Cord stimulation is one of the only treatments that you get to “try before you buy.” In fact, a short trial of spinal cord stimulation is required before a complete system is implanted. During this trial, two leads (small wires with multiple electrodes on the end) are inserted through needles into the epidural space, precisely positioning them several millimeters away from the spinal cord under the guidance of fluoroscopy (mobile x ray). The needles are then removed and the leads are secured to the skin and connected to a temporary spinal cord stimulator, which will be used for the duration of the trial, typically about one week. The purpose of the trial is to see whether pain can be reduced by at least 50% and some degree of function or quality of life, such as improved sleep or tolerance of standing, can be restored. At the conclusion of the trial, the leads are removed, like taking off a large bandage, and the results are analyzed. If the trial is successful, implantation of a fully internalized spinal cord stimulator is recommended.
Fully implanted spinal cord stimulators contain four parts: a small pulse generator, wires with multiple leads, a charger and a remote controller. The implantation surgery takes about an hour and is usually done as an outpatient procedure, meaning you can go home shortly after surgery. Your pain doctor implants two leads in the same manner as the trial leads were implanted, only they are secured to the spine using special anchors. Then your doctor implants a pulse generator under the skin of your lower back, buttocks or abdomen and connects the leads to the pulse generator.
After implantation, the spinal cord stimulator is programmed to deliver the right type of neuromodulating signals to control your pain. You will be instructed in the use of the remote control and in how to recharge your pulse generator. There is usually a period of time after spinal cord stimulator implantation in which the treatment is fine-tuned to optimally control your pain.
You may be a good candidate for a spinal cord stimulator if:
If you’re ready to get pain relief using spinal cord stimulation, call Pain Management Specialists or schedule an appointment online today.