Ramsey pain doctors Dr. Kevin McElroy and Dr. Steven Ferrer, along with the rest of their multidisciplinary pain team, are constantly looking for the most effective and innovative strategies to relieve acute and chronic health conditions like back pain. Spinal cord stimulation (SCS) is one strategy that has grown in popularity in recent years. While not for everybody, SCS can be effective for many people who are tired of living with debilitating back pain. Read on to learn more about this procedure and if it’s right for you.
What is Spinal Cord Stimulation?
Also known as neurostimulation, spinal cord stimulation (SCS) is a process that modifies or blocks noxious (painful) signals transmitted by the nervous system, minimizing or even preventing the sensation of pain. This non-medicinal, pain-relieving effect is achieved by a small electrical device, which is implanted near the spine. Much like a pacemaker, the SCS device elicits mild electrical impulses; in this case, these impulses are used to keep pain signals from reaching the brain (conversely, the impulses from a pacemaker are used to regulate a person’s heart beat). The strength, type, and frequency of these electrical impulses can be controlled and adjusted via a handheld device, reflecting the fact that a person’s pain levels may fluctuate at various times.
The SCS procedure is reversible; a person can always opt to have the device removed without causing permanent changes to the spine or nervous system. Research has shown that spinal cord stimulation has also helped people reduce their use of pain medications including opioids, which are known to have a host of adverse effects.
Who is Spinal Cord Stimulation For?
SCS shouldn’t be considered a first treatment option, but it can help provide effective neck and/or back pain relief for people who have failed to respond positively to other techniques, including physical therapy, chiropractic care, interventional pain injections, and/or back surgery. Spinal cord stimulation has also been used effectively for people who have chronic pain related to complex regional pain syndrome, peripheral neuropathy, and arachnoiditis (inflammation of the protective tissues, called the meninges, that cover the spinal cord and nerves).
Spinal cord stimulation should not be used in certain people, including people who already has a demand-type cardiac pacemaker, people with psychiatric conditions (such as severe depression) that may be influencing pain, and people with certain infections, untreated bleeding disorders, and untreated drug/opioid addictions.
Is it Safe?
Spinal cord stimulation is a minimally invasive procedure and has little to no side effects compared to other pain management strategies. Complications and/or malfunctioning of the device may occur, however the risk of this is considered minimal. Overall, research suggests that spinal cord stimulation is a safe and effective procedure, one that is performed for around 14,000 people or more every year.
Wondering if Spinal Cord Stimulation Can Help You? Call Progressive Spine & Sports Medicine Today for More Information
Bergen County physicians Dr. McElroy and Dr. Ferrer believe that spinal cord stimulation can be a great option for certain patients struggling with back pain who may not be seeing the results they want from other pain management strategies. To learn more about this technique or to hear about our other multidisciplinary pain relief options including nonsurgical orthopedics and physical therapy, call Progressive Spine & Sports Medicine of Ramsey, NJ today at 201 962 9199.