What is it?
Mild electrical stimulation with SCS not only appears to reduce the amount of pain signals that travel in the
spine, evidence suggests it also stimulates nerves to release pain-relief chemicals. At the same time, stimulation improves circulation to the region being treated. Increasing the supply of oxygenated blood may be a factor in relieving pain caused by ischemia.
Studies show that more than 60 percent of suitable candidates who try SCS find their pain is lowered by 50 – 70%, more than they have had from other interventions including medications, a degree that has allowed many to resume more day-to-day activities and enjoy a better quality of life.
In fact, when back surgery – such as for a herniated disk, or a spinal fusion for fractured vertebrae – does not relieve pain, now SCS is often recommended prior to attempting a second back surgery.
Who is eligible for SCS?
Patients who have persistent, severe, disabling pain for which other simpler treatments have been ineffective and for which they would like a more effective treatment are eligible. They will have an adequately diagnosed condition, such as:
- painful spinal zygapophysial joints (by means of diagnostic nerve blocks where they have had definite or complete relief repeatedly)
- Chronic Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS)
- Past operations
- Nerve scars or nerve entrapment
- Medical conditions such as persistent nerve pain, widespread, or pelvic or abdominal pain
Some side-effects of SCS implantation, although uncommon, include:
- Related to the operation itself: risk of bruising, bleeding, nerve damage & infection.
- Subsequent adverse affects: Long-term risk of infection, issues with hardware (lead failure & lead migration), pulse generator malfunctioning, diminish effect over time despite adequate parameters.
All precautions to avoid these side-effects are taken by the medical team.
We undertake a three step process that takes around 4-8 weeks from beginning to end:
- A doctor will confirm that your condition is appropriate for stimulator implantation and discuss the best type stimulator with you.
- You are then referred for a screening assessment with a Psychologist or Pain Counselor and Physical Therapist. This gives us more insight into your pain and how you manage it, in case you would rather continue with these than a stimulator operation.
- We then proceed to implantation by firstly a trial implant. If you find this successful then we proceed to a permanent implantation.
As with all of our procedures we take every step to ensure that you have all the information you need. We like you to feel that you are in charge of the process utilising all of our resources.