Spinal Cord Stimulation for Back Pain is Changing Lives
Spinal Cord Stimulation is an effective, noninvasive treatment that’s changing lives. If you’re suffering from spinal pain, you need to read this.
James Pate’s life was miserable after falling on boulders in his pond at Little Rock, Arkansas. It was a terrible accident that injured his lower back and led to a state of constant pain. With his back in shambles, James was unable to work in his yard or even drive to church.
James underwent four back surgeries along with regular physical therapy sessions to cope with the pain. All failed to provide true relief.
Since then, however, James has his life back. He can now work on his yard and drive around town whenever he pleases. Even better, he no longer needs to attend physical therapy sessions. (Is this supposed to be a link?)
What’s the procedure that made a world of difference for James? Spinal cord stimulation (SCS).
If you’re constantly suffering from intense backaches like James did, read on to learn more about spinal cord stimulation. The minimally invasive therapy may be just what you need to restore your lifestyle.
Spinal Cord Stimulation (SCS): How It Works And Its Advantages
The procedure uses an implant with soft, thin wires tipped with electrical leads. The implant is placed in the back, acting as a pacemaker for the patient’s spine. It creates pleasurable sensations to block or alter pain signals to the brain, and the patient feels less discomfort.
Back pain management with SCS always starts with a short trial for about a week (unlike other forms of pain treatment and surgery that require full commitment from the very beginning). This trial uses a temporary implant to see if the treatment can deliver adequate pain relief.
The initial surgery (which lasts about 10 to 20 minutes) starts with the application of a local anesthetic to numb the patient’s skin. The temporary stimulator is placed just beneath the skin and is attached to a small generator carried by the patient.
Using the pager-like generator, the patient can manage pain on his or her own, with just a few buttons and clicks. The pre-set programs in the hand-carried generator “command” the temporary stimulator to release electric currents to counteract the pain within target areas.
If the patient enjoys adequate pain relief from the trial, the next course of action involves the addition of a permanent spinal cord stimulator.
The surgical procedure for a permanent implant puts all of the components under the skin, leaving the entire system invisible. This also eliminates the need for a hand-carried generator.
Sure, the second surgery takes 60 to 90 minutes. But it’s on an outpatient basis, and patients are not required to stay in the hospital overnight.
Advantages Of Spinal Cord Stimulation
The nature of spinal cord stimulation – along with the surgery it requires – provides several advantages over major back pain surgeries:
The trial surgery means the patient won’t have to live with potential side effects and discomfort should they occur. It’s minimally invasive and easily reversible if the implant doesn’t deliver adequate pain relief.
Placing the entire permanent spinal cord stimulation system under the skin allows the patient to go home right after the surgery. He or she can go immediately back to a normal life: travel anywhere, live an active lifestyle and participate in all sorts of recreational activities.
It provides relief for many sources of chronic back pain, including failed back surgeries, complex regional pain syndrome, peripheral nerve injury, scarring of the spinal nerve’s protective layers, and peripheral neuropathy.
It reduces the need for branded painkillers.
Back pain treatment through spinal cord stimulation has also been scientifically tested and proven to work:
Backed By Studies
Using implants and stimulators to relieve pain and improve physical performance may sound like the stuff you see in movies, à la Iron Man and Elysium. However, numerous studies that follow acceptable methodologies have proven that the benefits of spinal cord stimulation therapy aren’t science fiction.
Significant Pain Reduction Leaves Patients Satisfied
Dr. Kim Burchiel, a fellow of the American Association of Neurological Surgeons and American College of Surgeons, carried out a prospective, multicenter study to examine the potency of spinal cord stimulation in providing relief for back pain.
The investigative report, which focused on 70 patients who underwent a year of follow-up treatment, saw at least 50% in overall pain relief, while study participants found the procedure worthwhile and beneficial.
Spinal Cord Stimulation Led To More Active, Fulfilling Lives
A study by Dr. Krishna Kumar, involving 182 patients suffering from post-laminectomy pain, found that spinal cord stimulation led to successful pain management for 53% of patients.
The study’s findings, published in the journal Current Review of Pain in 1998, also saw many patients enjoying better, more active lives after spinal cord stimulation:
6 patients, aged at least 60 years old, have adopted a more active lifestyle.
18 patients reported significant increases in their level of work.
22 other patients found successful employment after the procedure.
SCS Better Than Traditional Treatments
In another study carried out by Kumar, 100 patients with a failed back surgery syndrome were randomized to receive spinal cord stimulation along with conventional medical treatment (CMM), or CMM alone.
The 6-month study had the patients reporting data on:
Pain and usage of pain medications
Quality of life and function
The more recent Kumar study echoed the results of the 1998 study: spinal cord stimulation offered superior relief from pain, better health-related quality of life, and greater functional capacity than traditional back pain treatments.
Could You Be The Next SCS Success Story?
The 60-year-old Australian Joe Grewal had to endure chronic back pain for decades. For 30 years, he tried just about everything to get rid of the pain like James Pate: physical therapy, back surgeries, and even morphine implants.
But in 2015, he became the first patient fitted with a permanent SCS implant. Joe Grewal felt his pain intensity of about an 8 out of 10 drop to a 2-3 immediately after.
“I feel amazing, actually,” he said in a report. “I’m just so excited. My life will change now for the better.”
After Grewal’s success story, about 30 other back pain patients will be recruited to trial permanent spinal cord stimulation implants. And hopes are running high!
Would you like to be the next SCS success story?