When you have severe chronic pain that won’t respond to other treatments, your doctor may recommend spinal cord stimulation (SCS). SCS uses neurotransmission to alter how your brain perceives pain signals from the nerves in your spine. It can treat several types of limb, neck, and back pain. Usually, your doctor performs a minimally invasive surgery to implant a spinal cord stimulator under your skin. But before you commit to a full spinal cord stimulation Houston, they will conduct a trial to determine if SCS is a viable treatment option for you. Here is what you should expect from this phase.
Preparing for The Procedure
Before you begin your trial, your doctor will perform imaging, lab, and diagnostic tests to determine if you can undergo surgery. If you are cleared, they will guide you on how to prepare for the implantation procedure. The advice may cover topics such as:
- Medications to stop taking or switch several days before the surgery
- The hygiene products and soaps to use or avoid on the day before the procedure
- Fasting several hours before the procedure, including avoiding liquids for at least two hours and solid foods for about eight hours before the surgery.
Spinal Cord Stimulation Trial
The spinal cord stimulator implantation involves the trial procedure, which is usually followed by the full implantation surgery if the trial is successful. The full surgery involves the implantation of the pulse battery or generator. During the trial, your doctor will implant the device through your skin.
You will be sedated, and your doctor will use a fluoroscope to guide them as they place the lead. They will make a small incision in the skin on your back, insert a needle, and push it until it reaches the epidural space. Once the needle is in place, your doctor will thread the lead into position and remove the needle. Part of the lead will remain outside your skin.
Your doctor will secure the ends of the leads outside your skin with sutures or surgical tape and attach it to a pulse generator attached to your skin. They will then wake you and test whether the device has any effect on your pain. Typically, an SCS trial may last several days to weeks. It is considered successful if the device reduces your pain by at least 50 percent.
The spinal cord stimulation trial procedure is simpler than the full implantation, so you should be able to go home immediately or a day after the surgery. Your doctor will advise you on how to clean and dress the surgical wound. Moreover, they will recommend that you rest and avoid physical activity such as lifting, stretching, and bending. Call your doctor if you experience severe pain or side effects.
Spinal cord stimulation is an effective treatment for chronic pain that alters how your brain receives messages from your spinal nerves. If Ioannis Skaribas, MD, DABA, FASA, Expert Pain’s double board-certified pain expert, believes that SCS might help you, they will arrange a trial. You can learn more about SCS from Dr. Skaribas by setting up an appointment with his Houston office today.