Spinal cord stimulation (SCS) involves use of electrical impulses to relieve chronic pain of the back, legs, neck, and arms. Mild, pleasant electrical impulses prevent the transmission of pain signals to the brain. SCS candidates include those who suffer from neuropathic pain, and SCS is used only have conservative measures fail.
How do you prepare for the spinal cord stimulator implant procedure?
Before having a stimulator implant, you will meet with the surgeon. If you are taking blood-thinning agents, these must be held for a few days before the procedure. Because you cannot drive after the procedure, you should arrange to have someone take you home. The doctor will review your records, take a detailed medical history, conduct a physical examination, and schedule some preliminary tests.
What can I expect after the procedure?
Immediately after the procedure, you will experience some mild pain at the stimulator insertion site. If overnight stay is required, you will be moved to a hospital room. If you Expect some soreness a few days after this procedure. You are to avoid excessive twisting, bending, lifting, and reaching about your shoulders for 2 weeks. You are encouraged to gradually return to usual activities as tolerated. Do not shower or take a bath until all staples and sutures are removed.
Who programs the stimulator device?
Your stimulator is turned on and programmed during your follow-up visit. You are instructed at this time on how to use/recharge the system. If you let the batter become depleted, you may require more frequent recharges which damaged the battery and leads to implantation of a new battery.
How is a spinal cord stimulator different than a transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulator (TENS) unit?
SCS involves a surgically implanted unit, whereas TENS is worn on the outside of the body. SCS offers a more complete tingling sensation, and covers a larger area than TENS.
How long does the SCS procedure take?
The trial procedure is done first. This involves only implanting electrodes along the spine with wires that run to an external device. The trial procedure takes around 60 minutes. For the permanent implant procedure, you will be in surgery for around 1-2 hours.
Will I need anesthesia for the procedure?
You will be given IV sedation for the spinal cord stimulator implant. For these procedures, you often can talk to the healthcare team while the system is being implanted.
Can I go swimming or get in a hot tub?
You are permitted to soak in a tub or go swimming after your incisions heal. However, do not allow the pump to rise above 102 degrees. Also, time spent in the tub should not be excessive.
How is the procedure done?
During the implant procedure, the skin is cleaned using an antiseptic. After the lower abdomen or buttock region is numbed, a small incision is made, so the device can be inserted. A catheter device is used to place the electrodes along the spinal region. Tubing is tunneled under the skin to connect to the stimulator unit. After all structures are in place, the incisions are closed using sutures.
What conditions are treated using spinal cord stimulation?
Conditions treated with spinal cord stimulation include: