Could a Spinal Cord Stimulator Be a Solution for Chronic Back Pain?

Persistent or chronic back pain is a common problem affecting millions of Americans. In many cases, it can become so severe that it interferes with your ability to perform daily activities. In fact, when back pain becomes chronic, it can make it difficult to do laundry, walk to the mailbox, or load the dishwasher. Even getting a sound and restful night’s sleep can become impossible when you have chronic back pain.

At Pain Institute of Southern Arizona, our experienced providers offer cutting-edge pain management, physical medicine, and physical rehabilitation services. We understand the toll chronic back pain can take on your life. When conservative treatments and physical therapy fail, we often urge our patients to consider spinal cord stimulators to find relief from their chronic back pain.

Using spinal cord stimulators for pain management

Spinal cord stimulators are small medical devices that we implant just underneath your skin. They help manage chronic back pain by interrupting pain signals traveling along your nerves to your brain. When your brain doesn’t get the message that your back hurts, you won’t feel pain. This approach is known as neuromodulation.

The Food and Drug Administration first approved these innovative devices in 1989. Since then, they have provided relief for numerous men and women experiencing chronic, debilitating back pain. In more recent years, the medical technology used for spinal cord stimulators has continued to improve. These advancements have increased their effectiveness as a drug-free solution for chronic back pain.

How spinal cord stimulators work

A spinal cord stimulator contains a thin wire with electrodes. We thread the wire along your spine and strategically place the electrodes; we then connect it to a control unit, referred to as a generator.

Once in place, the system delivers very mild electrical impulses. These neurostimulators disrupt the pain signals that your nerves send to your brain. As a result, your brain doesn’t receive the pain messages from affected nerves, so it doesn’t recognize that you have any discomfort.

We implant the stimulator via a relatively minor procedure. First, we create a small pocket in your skin to hold the generator. Then, we place the electrodes in the proper position.

How today’s spinal stimulators differ from earlier models

The newest generation of spinal cord stimulators offer far more effective pain relief for many patients, thanks to their advanced technology. Not only have they undergone design updates, but their electrical output has also significantly decreased, eliminating the irritating side effects seen in earlier models.

While these side effects were fairly mild, they weren’t well-tolerated by some men and women. They often included sensations like a buzzing feeling when the electrical impulses were in use. If you tried a spinal cord stimulator in the past but had adverse side effects, it may be time to try a new model.

Before surgically implanting a spinal cord stimulator, you can expect to undergo a weeklong trial for testing purposes. This period gives you an opportunity to judge the device’s efficacy and allows us time to adjust the spinal cord stimulator as necessary.

To find relief from chronic back pain via the most cutting-edge and effective treatments available, call one of Pain Institute of Southern Arizona’s locations today, or schedule an appointment using the online booking feature here on our website.