Spinal cord stimulation is a treatment in which nerve activity in the back is altered with the help of low levels of electricity.
Scientists found that electrical stimulation interferes with how pain signals are perceived in the brain. In 1989, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved spinal cord stimulation for the treatment of chronic pain caused by nerve damage in the neck, arms, back, buttocks, and legs.
Below, we asked our experts at Spine & Pain Specialists of the Carolinas, located in Charlotte, North Carolina, to explain who is a good candidate for spinal cord stimulation.
If you’ve ever fallen on your knee, you may have noticed that your first instinct was to rub the area. Scientists discovered that the instinct to rub painful areas is actually helpful in preventing pain receptors from sending pain signals to the brain.
When the pain in one area is also accompanied by stimulation, the pain signals carried by neurons in the grey matter are inhibited.
Anyone with pain caused by nerve damage is a potential candidate for spinal cord stimulation as long as they aren’t pregnant and don’t have a pacemaker. Even people who’ve had surgery and didn’t notice any improvement in their pain levels can benefit from spinal cord stimulation.
Pain caused by nerve damage is acute, sharp, and shooting, and it’s often accompanied by a feeling of pins and needles. In comparison, when muscles or other tissues hurt, the pain is usually dull and throbbing.
Optimal candidates for spinal cord stimulation have the desire to reduce pain without medications. They’re also willing to undergo a minor surgical procedure where a small wire is introduced into their back to deliver low levels of electricity straight to the nerves.
During the treatment, you’ll be asked to lay on your back while one of our experts guides the wire into the epidural space in your spine. The procedure is minimally invasive and doesn’t require any recovery time. You’ll also be under anesthesia.
Afterward, you’ll receive a remote. With the help of this remote, you’ll be able to control the spinal cord stimulation by increasing or decreasing the strength of the electrical stimulation.
We recommend that most people use the device for 30-45 minutes daily.
If physical therapy, medications, or surgery didn’t improve your symptoms, contact us to schedule an appointment. Our experts will examine your painful areas and let you know if you’re a good candidate for spinal cord stimulation.