A spinal cord stimulator is an electrode placed in the epidural space through the skin producing an electric current to treat chronic pain. A small pulse generator sends electrical pulses to the nerves, these pulses interfere with the nerve impulses that make you feel pain.
Spinal cord stimulators are used to minimize the use of narcotics.
Conditions treated: Failed Back, Failed Surgery Syndrome, Post Laminectomy Syndrome, Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy, Post Herpetic Neuralgia, ischemic pain secondary to peripheral vascular disease, and phantom limb pain.
Nerve stimulation is done in two steps:
- Step One: your doctor will first insert a temporary electrode through the skin (percutaneously) to give the treatment a trial run. The electrode is connected to a stimulator that the patient can control. Typically for a week long trial.
- Step Two: If the trial is successful, your doctor can implant a permanent stimulator under your skin. This is typically done using a local anesthetic and a sedative. The stimulator itself is implanted under the skin and the small coated wires (leads) are inserted under the skin to the point where they are either connected to nerves or inserted into the spinal canal.
After this outpatient procedure is complete, you and your doctor determine the best pulse strength. You are then trained to use the stimulator at home. Typically you will use your spinal cord stimulation for 1 or 2 hours, 3 or 4 times a day. The electrical nerve stimulator creates a tingling feeling.