Spinal Cord Stimulator Implants Make Pain a Thing of the Past
Spinal cord stimulation is a type of neuromodulation that can improve your sleep, quality of life, and ability to go about your day without taking pain medication. The spinal cord stimulator implant procedure itself is minimally invasive and has a low risk of complications. Compared to other surgical treatments, the healing time for spinal cord stimulator surgery is generally shorter.
What is a Spinal Cord Stimulator and How Does it Work?
A spinal cord stimulator is a small device that is implanted near the spine to reduce chronic pain. After it is implanted via surgery, spinal cord stimulation uses mild electrical pulses to interfere with pain signals reaching the brain. This neuromodulation reduces pain because the electrical pulses mask the pain signal, preventing it from reaching your brain.
In other words, spinal cord stimulation doesn’t eliminate the source of pain. Instead, it works by interfering with the signal to the brain, causing patients to either not feel pain signals experience a tingling feeling instead.
Not all patients get the same degree of relief from neuromodulation, so a trial period is respected before permanent surgery is performed. This means that there are two procedures in the spinal cord stimulator implant process: the trial and the implantation. Even if a patient changes their mind after permanent surgery, spinal cord stimulators can be removed without damaging the spinal cord or nerves.
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Spinal Cord Stimulator Implant Process
Spinal Cord Stimulator Trial
During the spinal cord stimulator trial procedure, the device is not implanted in the body. Instead, the wires are inserted and an external transmitter sends the pulses.
Spinal Cord Stimulator Implantation
After a successful spinal cord stimulator trial, the spinal cord stimulator implant, a small generator, is placed discreetly under the skin and gives you complete control over your relief.
Here’s more about what to expect during the implant process.
Spinal Cord Stimulator Trial Period
If you’re considered a good candidate for spinal cord stimulation, we’ll have you try out spinal cord stimulation for a few days with a temporary implant.
If the trial period goes well, we’ll implant a permanent spinal cord stimulator that allows you to adjust the type of pain relief needed for various activities.
Spinal Cord Stimulator Treatment Uses
Spinal cord stimulation is used most often after nonsurgical pain treatment options have failed to provide sufficient relief. Spinal cord stimulators may be used to treat or manage different types of chronic pain, including:
- Back pain
- Post-surgical pain
- Heart pain
- Spinal cord injuries
- Nerve-related pain
- Peripheral vascular disease
- Perineal pain
Generally, spinal cord stimulation treatment is used for people who aren’t able to get sufficient pain relief with medications, less-invasive therapies or other surgeries.
Spinal Cord Stimulator Surgery Recovery Time and Care
Recovery is one of the most important parts of any surgery, and the most important part of the recovery process from a spinal cord stimulator implant surgery is the first week after. During the recovery, our spinal cord stimulator implant doctors will first provide you with a list of activities to avoid as much as possible for a few weeks after surgery, including:
- Lifting objects heavier than five pounds
- Athletic activities that could move the device before you heal
- Sudden jerking motions like twisting and bending
- Extended periods of sitting still that put pressure on your spine
- Lifting your arms above your head
Activities like driving may also be restricted in the first few weeks after surgery. Discuss any specific activities you need to do for your work or home life with your Greater Austin Pain Center doctor prior to surgery.
Austin Spinal Cord Pain Doctors
If you suffer from chronic pain and want to take back your life, we have three convenient locations in and around the Austin area. Find out more about our team of pain doctors dedicated to your wellbeing.
To learn more about how we treat pain symptoms and find long term solutions, please check out our pain conditions and treatments pages. You can get in touch with our friendly and knowledgeable team to schedule an appointment at one of our pain management centers in Austin.