Updated: Mar 24, 2022
Most Americans (about 80%) from suffer back pain at some point in their lives, often as a result of exertion or strain. That type of acute back pain typically resolves after some rest and maybe some ice and heat therapy.
But many other people have chronic back pain, with symptoms that just don’t respond to traditional noninvasive options. For these patients, an implantable spinal cord stimulator can provide much-needed relief, helping them perform daily activities without painful symptoms.
At Woodbury Spine, Dr. Evan O’Brien offers spinal cord stimulator treatment using state-of-the-art technology that helps people with chronic, treatment-resistant back pain get the relief they need for a better quality of life.
If you have chronic back pain, here’s what you should know about spinal cord stimulation.
The ABCs of spinal cord stimulation
Pain happens when our nerves react to stimuli, sending chemical messages to the brain. The brain interprets those messages as pain. In chronic pain, those signals happen a lot — sometimes all the time.
Spinal cord stimulation (sometimes called neurostimulation) uses a very low level of electrical current to disrupt those signals. Tiny electrical impulses travel along thin electrical wires called leads. The ends of the leads are located near the spinal nerves involved in pain signaling. Each pulse interrupts the normal signals along the nerve pathway, helping to relieve pain.
When a spinal cord stimulator makes sense
Dr. O’Brien begins with noninvasive treatments, like pain relievers and physical therapy. If these options don’t work to relieve pain and nerve irritation, he may use corticosteroid injections. If all of those options are ineffective, then he may recommend spinal cord stimulation.
Before Dr. O'Brien implants the generator near your spine, he conducts a trial run to make sure spinal cord stimulation is the right treatment for you. During this procedure, he implants the leads near the nerves involved in your pain. But instead of implanting the generator, the leads are attached to a device you wear on the outside of your body.
You wear the generator for about a week to determine if spinal cord stimulation gives you relief. A small, handheld device lets you control the level of electrical stimulation, tailoring it to your symptoms.
If the trial run is a success, Dr. O’Brien implants the generator near your buttocks or your belly, running the leads under your skin. The unit is very small and easily hidden by your clothes. In most cases, the procedure can be performed on an outpatient basis, and recovery takes 7-10 days. Dr. O’Brien gives you complete instructions about activity restrictions while you heal.
Get rid of nagging back pain
Chronic back pain can take a major toll on your life, both physically and emotionally. With spinal cord stimulation, many patients get marked improvement in their pain and quality of life. To learn more about neurostimulation for chronic back pain, call our office in Woodbury, New Jersey, or book an appointment online.