Benefits of a nerve stimulator implant for pain management
A nerve stimulator implant, also known as a spinal cord stimulator implant, is a device designed to send gentle electrical impulses to the spinal cord. The goal of this type of treatment is to help with pain management for patients dealing with a number of conditions.
Chronic pain and other symptoms of these conditions, including tingling, numbness and muscle weakness, can have a negative effect on quality of life. By actually disrupting nerve impulses that travel between the spinal cord and the brain, nerve stimulator implants can achieve significant relief that allows people to resume activities that were previously difficult to perform.
If you’re seeking effective pain management for chronic back pain, failed back surgery syndrome (fbss), complex regional pain syndrome, arachnoiditis, diabetic neuropathy, angina or another condition, learning about the benefits of nerve stimulator implants can help. Patient education is a critical part of the relief journey, and at USA Spine Care, we’re committed to enabling a proactive approach that allows you to work more closely with your treatment team.
What are the primary benefits of nerve stimulator implants?
A spinal cord stimulator is often recommended for patients seeking pain management for debilitating symptoms that have not responded to conservative therapies. Although medication, injections, rest and lifestyle changes offer relief for many people dealing with chronic pain, others can pursue treatment for weeks or months without improvement.
In other situations, patients dealing with complications related to a previous spine surgery require pain management beyond basic treatments yet want to avoid having to undergo another procedure.
In these situations, a doctor may recommend a nerve stimulator implant. Nerve stimulation therapy facilitated by an implanted device can offer the following benefits, especially compared to medications, for patients:
- There is no chemical dependency — Pain medication, especially powerful prescription medications, can create chemical dependency. This can lead to needing increasingly large doses to find relief. Nerve stimulation works by sending a gentle electrical pulse directly to the spinal cord that replaces pain with a light tingling sensation. This allows patients to significantly reduce the need for medication, or eliminate it entirely.
- Does not involve taking or refilling medication — Another drawback of medication is having to remember to take it as well as repeatedly purchase over-the-counter medication or have prescriptions refilled. Once the implanted device has been placed it can function for years without the need for replacement.
- Patients can control the level of stimulation — With adjustable stimulator settings on an external controller, patients can increase or decrease the level of stimulation to a degree that is comfortable, offering the ability to fine-tune that isn’t possible with other forms of treatment.
- Spinal cord stimulation surgery is minimally invasive — Compared to other forms of spine surgery, even minimally invasive decompression procedures, spinal cord stimulation involves a very small incision and limited tissue disruption. This is one reason why it is an attractive alternative for patients who are dealing with FBSS or who are not viable candidates for spine surgery.
- Allows for a higher activity level and the ability to complete physical therapy — Chronic pain can be a vicious cycle. The pain can make it difficult to move and accomplish daily activities, leading to a sedentary lifestyle. However, a sedentary lifestyle can lead to muscle breakdown, decreased function and mental health issues that can worsen chronic pain. A nerve stimulator implant can help break this cycle by giving patients relief that can help increase activity levels and undergo physical therapy that can in turn rebuild muscle and improve range of motion.
What to expect from nerve stimulator implant surgery
The first phase of a spinal cord stimulator implant procedure is the trial period. In this initial procedure, the surgeon will only attach a small pair of electrodes to the space around the spinal cord. These electrodes are then attached to an external generator that sends the current to the pain area in the spine. This allows patients to determine whether nerve stimulation therapy works before undergoing the full procedure.
After about a week, the patient will then have surgery to permanently place the implanted device. This will typically involve a small incision in the lower back or abdomen followed by careful tunneling of the wires underneath the skin. The procedure is brief and patients are generally able to move within a short time after the procedure.
After vitals are checked, the postoperative team will provide instructions for incision care and resuming activities during the recovery period. Patients will also receive information on maintaining and caring for their nerve stimulator implant, including how to adjust stimulator settings when needed.
Reach out to USA Spine Care today to learn more
At USA Spine Care, our caring and dedicated team has decades of combined experience helping patients receive the pain management needed to reach positive outcomes and a return to an active lifestyle. Our expert surgeons can perform outpatient spinal cord stimulator surgery at our state-of-the-art ambulatory surgery centers conveniently located across the United States.
If you’d like to learn more about becoming a candidate for one of our procedures, contact us today.
Call toll free 1-866-249-1627.