Stimulating the Spine

Many people suffer from chronic pain with no relief. If drugs and other management approaches fail, spinal cord stimulation may work for some.

Chronic complex pain is both intransigent and difficult to manage. Chronic pain is debilitating and the pain experiened is often permanent and excruciating. Life can become unbearablwith low quality of life and little respite from pain.

Spinal stimulation offers an alternative approach to treatment for some when nothing else works, and conservative treatments fail.

Spinal cord stimulation uses pulses of electricity to fire electrical signals into the spinal cord to control pain. Electrodes are surgically placed in the epidural space and an electrical pulse generator implanted in the area of the lower abdomen.

A remote control helps deliver and regulate the frequency and intensity of the electrical pulses generated. The patient feel a mild tingling in the spine during treatment.

Patients a1re selected carefully and some factors help: chronic pain that fails treatment

Factors that help select patients for the procedure include presence of: chronic pain that persists conservative therapteutic approaches; absense of specific psychological issues and fitness for surgery required to place the electrodes.

A one week therapeutic trial of spinal cord surgery is recommended because of the invasive nature of the therapy.

In selected patients it is likely to be effective with pain reduced by 50-70%. So if it works it can considerably reduce pain and improves quality of life. Pain medications that are often ineffective and inefficient can be reduced or discontinued.

Conditions in which spinal cord stimulation proves useful, include complex regional pain syndrome, failed back surgery syndrome, and refractory pain due to ischaemia.

Some contraindications to using spinal stimulation techniques include if the patient fails to understand how to use the spinal cord stimulation system, pregnancy,  poor surgical outcome, and if the trial of the device fails.

How spinal cord stimulation works is unclear, but it may mediate through neurotransmitter release as it induces GABA and serotonin levels.



  1. Chronic Pain and Its Affect On Quality of Life | A Path To Recovery - May 15, 2013

    […] Stimulating the Spine ( […]

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