Why Spinal Cord Stimulation Might Be Right for You

Why Spinal Cord Stimulation Might Be Right for You

If you have chronic pain, you know firsthand that it can take a toll on your physical and emotional well-being. Fortunately, innovative pain management solutions, such as spinal cord stimulation, can offer relief, even if you haven’t found effective therapies in the past.

Vladimir Fiks, MD, brings the latest and most effective treatments available to his patients at Advanced Pain Management Center in Portland, Oregon. If you have spine pain or a spinal condition, here’s how spinal cord stimulation might help.

Stopping pain before it starts

Spinal cord stimulation involves implanting a special device near your spinal cord to stop your pain.

Pain sensations occur because of a complex communication system hardwired within your nervous system. It starts when nerves called nociceptors detect tissue damage somewhere in your body. In response, they send urgent messages to your spinal cord and brain for processing. After receiving the information, your brain determines what to do with it, including the pain sensations you feel.

This entire process happens almost instantaneously, but it determines how your body feels all sorts of pain. It’s also what sets spinal cord stimulation apart as a pain management treatment. Instead of masking the symptoms, the treatment aims to change the pain signals going to your brain in the first place, which is a concept known as neuromodulation.

Spinal cord stimulation basics

Spinal cord stimulation disrupts this pain cycle by delivering low levels of electricity to the nerves that are sending the pain signals to your spine and brain. This gentle energy interferes with the communication, which, in turn, changes the sensations you feel. So, instead of feeling pain, you may feel tingling, fluttering, or nothing at all.

There are different spinal cord stimulation devices, but they all rely on three basic components: a battery to generate the electrical impulses, implantable electrodes to deliver the impulses to the affected nerves in your spine, and a remote control. 

This system enables you to control the level of energy your device delivers, and you can turn it on and off as desired.

When to consider spinal cord stimulation

It’s important to note that spinal cord stimulation doesn’t cure the body. As mentioned earlier, it interrupts the signals, thus helping to reduce or eliminate the pain. While healing a particular problem is always the ideal solution, Dr. Fiks often recommends this therapy for pain conditions that don’t respond to other treatments. These conditions include the following:

Spinal cord stimulation could also offer solutions if you have chronic back, neck, arm, or leg pain for six months or longer.

What to expect from spinal cord stimulation

If Dr. Fiks determines spinal cord stimulation may be able to relieve your pain, he gives you a trial period so you can see if it helps you manage your pain. During this stage, Dr. Fiks places temporary spinal cord stimulator leads near the affected nerves in your spine, and he attaches them to a portable stimulating device.

Trial periods usually last up to 14 days, and Dr. Fiks normally considers a trial successful if it decreases pain by at least half. If the stimulator helps you, Dr. Fiks permanently implants your electrodes and pulse generator. Pulse generators are usually implanted in the region of the upper buttocks.

Dr. Fiks implants spinal cord stimulators as an outpatient procedure, so you should be able to go home the same day. You might have mild tenderness in the site for a few days, and the implantation incisions should heal within 2-4 weeks. 

Spinal cord stimulation implantations are also completely reversible if you decide this therapy isn’t right for you.

To see if a spinal cord stimulator could help you, book an appointment online or over the phone with Advanced Pain Management Center today.

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