How Spinal Cord Stimulation Works to Manage Pain

Are you experiencing persistent back pain despite corrective surgery? Have other pain management treatments fallen short in bringing you relief? 

If you find yourself in this situation, there’s good news. You may be a candidate for spinal cord stimulation, a state-of-the-art treatment that we offer here at Houston Pain Specialists. You can trust our experienced team, led by board-certified pain management specialist Hui Kang, MD.

If this is the first time you’re hearing about spinal cord stimulation, you probably have a lot of questions about what it does and how it works. In this blog, we address some common questions you may have about spinal cord stimulation, including how it can relieve your persistent back pain.

What is spinal cord stimulation?

When faced with chronic neck, spine and back pain, you probably have found that getting even the most simple tasks done can seem insurmountable. 

You’ve likely tried other conservative pain management treatments like physical therapy, pain relief medications, or steroid injections that just didn’t help as much as you’d hoped. In this case, we may recommend spinal cord stimulation.

Spinal cord stimulation is an interventional pain management treatment that uses a small device to send electrical currents into your spine. 

The stimulator itself is made up of some thin wires, called electrodes, that receive signals from a generator. The device comes with a remote control, allowing you to determine when the electrical currents are sent.

How does spinal cord stimulation work?

If we decide that spinal cord stimulation is the appropriate next step in your pain management treatment, you begin with a trial phase. You receive a temporary electrode, placed in the space between your vertebrae and spinal cord, called the epidural space. The electrode attaches to an external generator. 

This phase lasts for approximately seven days so we can see if the spinal cord stimulation reduces or relieves your pain.

If you find the treatment to be effective, we schedule you for minor surgery to implant a permanent spinal cord stimulator. The electrode is placed into your spine near the area that’s causing your pain, while the generator is placed under your skin in your lower back or buttocks.

The stimulator is designed to change the perception of pain before you feel it. For example, traditional devices replace the pain with a slight tingling sensation, called paresthesia, while newer stimulators allow for undetectable stimulation. 

Because spinal cord stimulation aims to change the way you perceive pain rather than eliminate it all together, the amount of relief can vary from person to person.

Don’t let chronic back pain interrupt your life any longer. Let Dr. Kang help you get back to a pain-free life. Contact our Houston, Texas, office today to schedule an appointment.

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