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Chronic pain, a complex and debilitating condition, often proves resistant to conventional treatments, posing a significant challenge for patients and healthcare providers alike. For persistent low back and leg pain following multiple back surgeries, as well as for chronic conditions like diabetic neuropathy, neuralgia, and complex regional pain syndromes. The use of spinal cord stimulators offers a promising treatment option.

In this article, we will talk about spinal cord stimulators and how they help in pain management. To make this post more knowledgeable, we have gathered information from Dr. Dipty Mangla, renowned as a pain management specialist and providing the best spinal cord stimulator in New Jersey. It is variable at Mainland Pain Management, and it is considered the best and most successful treatment for addressing spinal cord pain.

Understanding Spinal Cord Stimulators (SCS)

Spinal cord stimulators serve as a groundbreaking intervention designed to alleviate chronic pain by delivering low-level electrical signals to the spinal cord. This state-of-the-art device consists of thin wires with active electrodes connected to a generator, like a pacemaker, which emits controlled electrical impulses. Patients suffering from a range of chronic pain syndromes can find relief from their symptoms as a result of these impulses that are directed into the epidural space, which is the area between the spinal cord and the body.

Using Mild Electrical Impulses They Block Pain Signals

Through the direct transmission of pain-relieving signals into the spinal cord, this implanted device provides patients with a special benefit. The chance to evaluate the technology's effectiveness before deciding to use it permanently. The use of mild electrical impulses to block pain signals and create a tingling sensation as a countermeasure makes spinal cord stimulation a state-of-the-art pain management technique. For patients with chronic pain, this innovative procedure offers pain relief through the insertion of a small device under the skin.

Who Benefits from Spinal Cord Stimulators?

The suitability of spinal cord stimulators is for individuals whose persistent pain has defied relief through traditional measures such as physical therapy, chiropractic care, epidurals, facet injections, and medications. People suffering from post-surgical pain, arachnoiditis, spinal cord injuries, peripheral vascular disease, complex regional pain syndrome, pain after amputation, and visceral pain have found relief with this novel intervention.

Procedure Overview: Trial and Implantation

The implantation of spinal cord stimulators involves a meticulous, two-step process. Patients undergo a trial phase where temporary electrodes are placed in the epidural space. During this trial, patients can assess the device's efficacy before committing to permanent implantation. This phase is reversible, allowing patients to make an informed decision after experiencing the device's effects.

Subsequently, the implantation phase involves surgically placing sterile electrodes in the same location as the trial electrodes and connecting them to a generator placed under the skin. This outpatient procedure, lasting 1-2 hours, necessitates precision and skill under sterile conditions.

Patient Preparation and Procedure Day

Candidates for spinal cord stimulators undergo thorough evaluations, including X-rays, MRI scans, psychological assessments, and comprehensive medical history reviews. Preoperative preparations include abstaining from food, temporary cessation of specific medications, and arrangements for transportation due to the effects of anesthesia. The procedure, commonly performed under deep sedation or general anesthesia, mandates bandages around the procedure site and entails post-procedure pain management.

Recovery and Post-Implantation Guidelines

Post-implantation, patients are advised on a recovery regimen, which encompasses refraining from strenuous activities, adhering to wound care protocols, and gradually resuming light activities.

To ensure optimal recovery post-spinal cord stimulator treatment, certain activities warrant restriction during the initial two weeks. Patients are advised against lifting weights exceeding five pounds, engaging in strenuous physical activities involving bending or twisting, and refraining from raising their arms, especially if fresh leads have been placed.

Additionally, precautions extend to avoiding pulling or jiggling the leads and refraining from soaking or swimming. Follow-up appointments with the surgeon for suture removal and monitoring are integral to ensuring proper healing and device functionality.

What Are the Potential Complications and Success Rates?

While spinal cord stimulator implantation boasts the potential for significant pain relief, like any medical procedure, it poses certain risks. Studies note complication rates ranging from 5.3% to 40%, with mechanical hardware failure, particularly lead migration, emerging as a primary concern. Success rates hinge on meticulous patient selection, successful trial stimulation, surgical precision, and patient education, aiming to alleviate pain rather than address its root cause.

Who Are Not Good Candidates for Spinal Cord Stimulation?

Individuals with overall good health tend to achieve optimal outcomes with spinal cord stimulation. However, several conditions may make someone a less suitable candidate for SCS:

  1. Untreated bleeding disorders
  2. Presence of a cardiac pacemaker, particularly a demand-type
  3. History of depression or mental health disorders
  4. Substance addiction, including alcohol or drug dependencies

These factors may influence the decision to defer spinal cord stimulation as a treatment option.

Can You Lead a Normal Life Post-Spinal Cord Stimulator Implantation?

Understanding the potential impact on daily life post-implantation is crucial. A commonly asked question often asked is whether one can lead a normal life with a spinal cord stimulator. Despite no permanent activity restrictions, patients should exercise caution to protect the device and prevent lead damage or migration. The goal is to enable individuals to resume their routine while safeguarding the efficacy of the implanted stimulator.

How Should Hygiene, Sleep, and Travel Be Managed with a Spinal Cord Stimulator?

Patients are often concerned about sleeping positions, showering, or swimming with a spinal cord stimulator post-procedure. Patients with trial stimulators need crucial care, whereas patients with permanent stimulators can participate in water activities safely. The best sleeping positions can help reduce pain after surgery. One such position is lying on one's back with a pillow under one's knees.

Conclusion

To put it briefly, spinal cord stimulation is a novel approach to managing chronic pain that promises to alleviate symptoms and improve the lives of those in constant discomfort.

If one is looking to get the best treatment and root cause diagnosis of chronic pain in New Jersey, one can visit the Mainland Pain Management Clinic. The clinic is renowned for its commitment to offering innovative treatments for chronic pain. 

With her extensive experience, Dr. Dipty Mangla guarantees a thorough approach, assisting patients at each stage of their life-changing journey toward pain relief.

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