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FAQs on Spinal Cord Stimulator in Phoenix, Arizona

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Spinal cord stimulation (SCS), also call neuromodulation, involves use of a battery-powered implanted generator, which emits a mild electric current that interferes with pain signals. The spinal cord stimulator device is often used for painful conditions that do not respond to interventional measures or conventional medications.

Is spinal cord stimulation safe?

Spinal cord stimulation is effective and safe. It has been used for pain relief for 40 years. Many people use SCS systems, which are all approved by the Food and Drug Administration.

Will spinal cord stimulation replace need for pain medicine?

This depends on how well you respond to SCS. The results tend to vary from person-to-person. For some individuals, the SCS is enough that narcotics or other analgesics are no longer required. For others, success is achieved when SCS means less use of pain medicines. Most patients are not 100% pain-free with SCS, but pain can be reduced 50-75%, for the majority of cases.

Is spinal cord stimulation covered by health insurance?

Spinal cord stimulator implant surgery is covered by many health insurance plans. The doctor first requests approval for the procedure, then schedules your surgery. A SCS trial to assure effectiveness is often required before permanent implantation.

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Can I have diagnostic imaging tests with the SCS system?

Most tests are safe with the SCS system, such as CT scans, PET scans, and ultrasounds. However, most SCS systems are not compatible with MRI scan testing. Most systems have a rechargeable battery, which is designed for long-term use. The amount of time you use this system depends on the doctor’s recommendation.

Can I resume usual activities after the SCS procedure?

After the procedure, you cannot do certain physical activities for 4-8 weeks. This is the time for you to rest and heal. You must not bend over, reach about your head, or engage in strenuous activities.

How does spinal cord stimulation work?spinal-cord-848x518

Spinal cord stimulation is used to stop pain signal transmission. The small battery-operated device is implanted beneath the ski. The device connects to small electrodes positioned along the spinal cord region by wires. The stimulator delivers an electrical current to the electrodes, which interrupts the conduction of pain signals by replacing pain with a pleasant tingling sensation. SCS is approved for back pain with or without leg pain (radiculopathy).

How do I prepare for the procedure?

Before the surgery, the surgeon will meet with you to assess your condition and medications. If you have an active infection, you must be treated beforehand. You must discontinue any blood thinning agents for several days, so be sure to discuss this with the doctor. Wear loose-fitting clothing to the procedure facility, shower with an antibacterial soap before you head to the surgical center, and leave all jewelry at home.

Is spinal cord stimulation effective for pain relief?

Outcomes regarding SCS therapy have improved over the last 30 years, as technology has improved. Today, SCS is not always seen as a last resort for pain relief, but rather, it is used as an adjunct treatment to decrease patient use of pain medicine. In a recent study of 60 patients, almost 20% stopped using analgesics after SCS implantation. Another study found that SCS offered long-term success rates for chronic pain syndrome. When the SCS is implanted within 2 years of the onset of chronic pain, patients have an 88% chance of success. In addition, SCS improves quality of life and decreases pain scores for many people who suffer from daily chronic pain.

Resources

Ivanova JI, Birnbaum HG, Yushkina Y, Sorg RA, Reed J, Merchant S. The prevalence and economic impact of prescription opioid-related side effects among patients with chronic noncancer pain. J Opioid Manag. 2013;9(4):239–254.

Kumar K, Hunter G, Demeria D. Spinal cord stimulation in treatment of chronic benign pain: challenges in treatment planning and present status, a 22-year experience. Neurosurgery. 2006;58(3):481–496. discussion 481–496.

Kumar K, Rizvi S, Nguyen R, Abbas M, Bishop S, Murthy V. Impact of Wait times on Spinal Cord Stimulation Therapy Outcomes. Pain Pract. 2013 Oct 25; Epub.

Poree L, Krames E, Pope J, Deer TR, Levy R, Schultz L. Spinal cord stimulation as treatment for complex regional pain syndrome should be considered earlier than last resort therapy. Neuromodulation.2013;16(2):125–141.

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