Neurostimulation Therapy (also known as Spinal Cord Stimulation) is often done when medications are not effective in treating chronic pain emanating from the spine. The procedure involves the implanting of a small stimulator into the spinal cord region underneath the skin. The stimulator then emits an electrical pulse on a mild scale to the spine, providing the patient with a tingly sensation to the region where the chronic pain occurs.
When it comes to feelings of pain, what happens is when the individual feels pain (either externally by touching something hot or getting hurt, or internally), messages get relayed to the brain which in turn interprets the message, resulting in the individual’s reaction to the pain-causing event. The neurostimulator implanted underneath the skin will manipulate the pain message, sending to the brain in a much quicker manner, electrical pulses, causing the brain to interpret the pulses first instead of the pain signals, causing the individual to experience a tingly sensation as opposed to feeling the pain. The procedure may require a small incision to be made in order to transfer electrical currents from a generator that will be placed under the skin around the waist area (upper buttocks) to the spine.
Spinal cord stimulation does not work for everyone and just as with other forms of therapies and injections, may vary on a case-by-case basis. Most patients that undergo this procedure, do witness a reduction of pain that can be within the 50-70% range while being able to proactively engage in regular day-to-day activities more frequently due to the alleviation of the pain.
This procedure does not eliminate the source of chronic pain, but it does manipulate the brain, preventing it or limiting its acknowledgment of the pain signal. There are forms of chronic pain to which the spinal cord stimulation procedure may be effective and they include:
- Failed Back Surgeries
- Complex Regional Pain