Spinal cord stimulators (SCS) are often a last-resort treatment when no other correctable source of pain is found in the spine. Patients undergo a trial (often after excluding other causes, and after undergoing neuropsychological testing) with a temporary wire implanted in the spine’s epidural space (while the patient is awake). If this works over several days, then a permanent trial can be considered. Our practice only places the permanent stimulator lead -- again, patients are awake, but unable to feel pain (due to spinal anesthetic), but are able to let us know if their “pain area” is being adequately covered. The final implant (including the electrode and a battery pack/generator placed at the hip) allows for pain to be reduced by modulating these nerves as they travel up the spinal cord to the brain. Many patients have had dramatic results with a permanent implant, which we perform only after a successful trial has been done.
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