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Am I a Candidate for a Spinal Cord Stimulator?

At Advanced Pain Management Center in Portland, OR, our team of pain specialists, led by Dr. Vladimir Fiks, is committed to providing patients with ongoing relief. Spinal cord stimulators can be an excellent choice. Unlike drugs that merely mask the problem, they don’t carry harsh side effects. Nor are they as risky as major surgery, which isn’t always effective. 

Stimulators are also unique among other treatment options in that they offer a screening procedure (trial), which allows patients the opportunity to experience treatment before going full board. Additionally, treatment is completely reversible. It can be paused, stopped, and restarted. Nor does it alter any anatomy. There is no need to remove any bone or muscle tissue.

How a spinal cord stimulator works

Pain occurs when your nerves recognize tissue damage in your body. From there, they send messages to your spinal cord and your brain. This process takes place within a microsecond, and it’s how your body registers pain.

A spinal cord stimulator works by distributing this cycle of communication so that your brain doesn’t register the pain signals. Spinal cord stimulators don’t heal the source of your pain. Instead, they change how your brain registers it. Rather than feeling chronic pain, you might feel fluttering, tingling, or nothing at all. The latest waveforms used for stimulators allow for effective treatment working on the background without the patient needing to experience any sensation at all, and in many cases patient may even forget that they have the device. 

When your stimulator is implanted, electrical wires are placed on specific nerves in your back. These wires are connected to a battery pack that’s also implanted in your back. A remote control allows you to adjust the level of stimulation, as well as, turn the device on and off. 

What conditions can be helped with a spinal cord stimulator?

Spinal cord stimulation can be used to treat patients with severe, chronic pain due to a variety of conditions, including:

Is a spinal cord stimulator right for you?

To determine whether a spinal cord stimulation is right for you, we start by placing a temporary, or trial, stimulator with the battery pack outside of your body. The pack is small enough to clip to your clothing. 

During this one to two week trial period, we monitor your results carefully. If your pain decreases by 50% or more, you are considered a good candidate for spinal cord stimulation. 

The permanent signal generator is implanted via a minor surgery in the hip and buttock area, with wire leads feeding to the target area around the nerves at the spine. The operation is performed under local anesthesia and intravenous sedation, rather than just local anesthesia.

If you’re plagued by chronic pain and aren’t keen on treating it with harsh drugs or major surgery, a spinal cord stimulator could be the answer. This treatment can be very effective, showing very effective pain relief up to 80% or more with a reduction of the need for pain medications and improved activity tolerance in multiple studies.

To learn more about this cutting-edge treatment, call Advanced Pain Management Center at (503) 405-8718, or request an appointment online.

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