Banner Health Services  

Spinal Cord Simulation

Tory McJunkin  

Tory McJunkin, MD, is a pain specialist with Banner Surgery Centers Pain Treatment Program.

Question:  I suffer from chronic back pain and it has been suggested I investigate a procedure called Spinal Cord Stimulation (SCS)? What is that?
Answer:  Spinal Cord Stimulation (SCS) therapy is an exciting procedure that has become increasingly popular for the treatment of many causes of chronic back pain as well as other conditions. 

Spinal Cord Stimulation uses groundbreaking technology that works by introducing an electrical current into the epidural space near the source of chronic pain impulses. 

Under a local anesthetic and minimal sedation, your doctor will first place trial SCS leads into the epidural space. The SCS lead is a soft, thin wire with electrical leads on its tip which is put in place using a needle. 
The trial stimulator is typically worn for five to seven days as the lead is taped to your back and connected to a stimulating device. 

If the trial successfully relieves your pain you can then undergo placement of a permanent SCS device to receive long-term pain relief. The permanent SCS placement procedure is similar to the placement of the trial except a pocket is made for the battery to be placed under the skin and the entire device is placed under the skin.

The Peripheral Nerve or Peripheral Field Stimulation procedure is identical, except the leads and battery pack are placed near the affected peripheral nerve or painful area.

As expected with any minor surgical procedure, there is always a chance of side effects. In this particular procedure the risks are low; however, it is important to know them. While the incision is healing it is important to keep it dry and clean so an infection does not occur.  If there is any drainage or redness at the site then you may have developed an infection and should be seen by your doctor.

Other rare side effects may include bleeding, scar tissue deposition, electrode failure, inadequate pain surface area coverage and nerve problems.

Generally, physician specialists trained in pain management are trained to perform this procedure. Your primary care physician can refer you to a specialist who performs this procedure to get more information.

Page Last Modified: 02/22/2010
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