Spinal Cord Stimulation uses electricity to attempt to reduce the pain signals in the spinal cord. The leads and electrodes are placed in the epidural space. Traditional low frequency stimulation produces a pleasant tingling sensation in the area of pain, whereas more recent technologies, e.g. high-frequency spinal cord stimulation (HF10) can reduce your pain without the tingling. It is essential that you have a trial of spinal cord stimulation before you decide to proceed to a full implantation. A trial is performed to assess whether the stimulator will be effective in reducing your pain. A successful trial is characterised by a marked reduction in pain (greater than 50%, and usually 70-80%), an ability to do more functionally, and often a reduction in pain medication use.
Is It Suitable?
A trial starts with a procedure in an operating theatre under sedation, and involves the placement of stimulator leads near the spinal cord (in the epidural space),via a needle. The leads are positioned precisely using x-rays for guidance. If the trial is successful, implantation of a permanent system is possible. This system can provide benefit for many years. Spinal Cord Stimulation has been in use since 1969, with recent technological advancements increasing its effectiveness. It is not usually suitable for people with lowered immunity, bleeding disorders, infection or people who are pregnant. However, your pain specialist will discuss your individual situation and advise the best type of therapy for you.
If you are eligible for a trial, the stimulator will be placed in the epidural space while you are under sedation. If the trial is successful, the implant can be made permanent, which can provide benefit for many years.