Despite best efforts to relieve individuals of pain either through conservative or surgical measures, some patients experience chronic pain. A spinal cord stimulator is permanently implanted in the spinal canal to provide pain relief. This procedure attempts to convert the painful sensation to a tingling sensation, which the brain perceives as more desirable. Small leads with multiple electrodes are positioned over the spinal cord. There are several designs of spinal cord stimulation devices.
A spinal cord stimulator differs from traditional surgery in several ways. The spinal cord stimulator does not change the underlying condition; it simply changes the brain’s perception of pain. There are two parts to the surgery. There is a trial phase in which the leads are placed and connected to an external power supply. You will go home for several days to weeks and see how well the device controls your pain. If this is successful, a permanent system will be implanted. If the trial is not successful, an attempt at a second trial with a spinal cord stimulator may be undertaken. If it also fails, the leads will be removed permanently.
A spinal cord stimulator may be used to treat a variety of chronic pain conditions including failed back surgery syndrome, multi-level degenerative problems and conditions related to problems with how the body processes pain signals.
Once you have decided to have surgery, the following events take place: