Are You a Candidate for a Spinal Cord Stimulator?

Pain comes in many types — sharp but fleeting, dull and achy, comes and goes, and call 911. But chronic pain encompasses all of these characteristics, plus one more — it never stops. 

If you're plagued with pain that won’t let up no matter what you or your doctors have tried, it may be time to flip the switch and turn off the signals that your nerves keep sending to your brain. It may be time for a spinal cord stimulator.

Our team of highly trained physicians at Regency Pain & Therapy Institute in Mansfield, Texas is composed of pain specialists with extensive experience and success with spinal cord stimulation. To find out if you're a good candidate for this effective pain-relief technology, consider these general criteria.

Do you understand what spinal cord stimulators do?

Spinal cord stimulation approaches pain differently than other treatments, such as injections, medication, physical therapy, and surgery. Although each of those modalities are excellent ways to address many medical conditions, some types of pain don’t respond to them.

That’s because certain pain stems from erratic pain messages sent between your nerves and your brain. Long after your injury or surgical site have healed, misfiring nerves may continue to relay pain messages. Even after a limb has been amputated, your nerves can still trigger signals that make your brain think the limb — and the pain — still exist.

A spinal cord stimulator (SCS) uses low-grade voltage to stimulate those malfunctioning nerves and interfere with their communication. Some people liken it to turning off a light switch or tricking the nervous system, but the bottom line is that the stimulation has the power to stop your brain’s perception of pain.

This process requires the surgical implantation of wire leads into your epidural space. The leads are connected to a small battery pack that keeps the electrical current continuously flowing and your pain (potentially) drastically abated. 

If the prospect of finally getting much-needed pain relief without medication is exciting, we understand. But it’s not for everybody. The following should help you determine if you’re a good candidate for SCS.

Do you have a condition that responds well to SCS?

Not all types of pain respond to SCS, but as research continues, more and more conditions join the growing list of candidates. Some of the most common conditions we treat with SCS here at Regency Pain & Therapy Institute include:

These are just a few of the many conditions that SCS can treat. This FDA-approved procedure is growing in popularity because it can potentially deliver significant pain relief. While it doesn’t work for everyone, those who benefit from it realize a 50%-100% reduction in their pain level.

Do you have a condition that disqualifies you from SCS?

Spinal cord stimulation works best when your body is otherwise healthy. Here are a few of the reasons we may recommend putting off SCS:

In addition to these conditions, smoking can also hinder the success of SCS, so we recommend quitting before considering spinal cord stimulation.

Are you willing to undergo a trial period with SCS?

Before we permanently implant the wire leads into your epidural space and the generator into your abdomen or buttock, we insert temporary leads attached to an external power source you wear on a belt for about a week. During this time, the electrical currents target specific nerves, and you keep a journal of your pain levels. 

If the SCS gives you at least 50% pain relief, we consider it a success and move forward with permanent implantation. The battery-powered generator may require replacement in 3-5 years, or you may receive a rechargeable generator that can be replenished without additional surgery.

Ready for SCS?

While these guidelines give you a good idea about whether or not you may be a good candidate for spinal cord stimulation, the only way to know for sure is to come in for a complete examination. Our team can give you a customized treatment plan designed for your condition and unique set of symptoms. 

Call us at 817-435-1642 today to find out more about spinal cord stimulation and if it could be the solution to your chronic pain, or schedule a consultation online.

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