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Spinal cord stimulation (SCS) is a pain relief technique which will deliver a low voltage electric current continuously to the spinal cord. This is done to block the sensation or feeling of pain. SCS is the most commonly used implantable neurostimulation technology. It can manage the pain syndromes. Around 50, 000 neurostimulators are implanted worldwide yearly.
The conventional system requires less effort for maintenance on the patient’s part. A minor surgical procedure is required to replace the power source when it runs out.
Radiofrequency systems are designed to sustain therapy over long periods of time at the highest output level. The RF system has high power capabilities because of which it can be used for the most challenging cases in which there is multi-extremity pain, and for complex cases. With this type of system, the patient has to wear an external power source in order to activate stimulation.
A Spinal Cord Stimulator (SCS) check or evaluation is typically performed by a healthcare professional, often the pain management specialist or the healthcare provider who implanted the spinal cord stimulator. Here are the general steps involved in a Spinal Cord Stimulator check:
The healthcare provider will begin by assessing the patient's overall health and any changes in pain symptoms since the last evaluation.
Interrogation of the Device:
The healthcare provider will use a specialized programmer to communicate with the spinal cord stimulator. This allows them to assess the status of the device, including battery levels, lead impedance, and programming settings.
Causes and Symptoms
If the doctor determines that spinal cord stimulation is a potential option, a temporary trial or test phase may be initiated.
During the trial, a temporary SCS system is implanted, and the patient uses it for a specified period to assess its effectiveness in managing pain.
Risk & Complications
Risk: Infection is a potential risk with any surgical procedure, including the implantation of a spinal cord stimulator.
Complications: Infections may lead to pain, redness, swelling, and, in severe cases, may require the removal of the device.
Patients cannot self-diagnose the need for a spinal cord stimulator. It requires professional evaluation, diagnosis, and guidance by a qualified healthcare provider.
Prevention of Spinal Cord Stimulator
Prevention strategies related to spinal cord stimulators primarily focus on minimizing the risks associated with their use and ensuring the longevity and effectiveness of the implanted device. Here's a summary of prevention measures:
Practicing proper hygiene during the surgical implantation process to minimize the risk of infection.
Following postoperative care instructions diligently, including keeping the incision site clean and dry.
Regular follow-up appointments with healthcare providers to monitor the device's performance and address any potential issues promptly.
Adherence to Guidelines:
Adhering to guidelines and restrictions provided by healthcare professionals to prevent complications such as lead migration or displacement.
Conducting allergy screenings to identify potential allergic reactions to materials used in the spinal cord stimulator components.
Ensuring routine maintenance, including periodic checks of the battery status, to prevent issues related to hardware malfunction or loss of battery power.
Individualized Patient Education:
Providing patients with comprehensive education about the device, its limitations, and potential complications to foster informed decision-making.
Appropriate Candidate Selection:
Thoroughly evaluating patients to identify suitable candidates for spinal cord stimulation, taking into consideration individual health factors and pain management needs.
Cautious Battery Management:
Educating patients on the expected lifespan of the device's battery and scheduling timely replacements to avoid unexpected loss of pain relief.
Monitoring for the formation of scar tissue and addressing any issues promptly to maintain optimal device functioning.
Treatment Option and Cost
Non-surgical treatments for spinal cord stimulation primarily involve conservative measures aimed at managing pain and improving overall spinal health. While these approaches may not directly address the use of a spinal cord stimulator device, they are part of a comprehensive pain management plan.
Medical Evaluation: Schedule a comprehensive medical evaluation with a pain management specialist to determine if spinal cord stimulation is an appropriate treatment for your condition. Diagnostic Trial Trial Stimulation: Before the permanent implantation, a temporary or trial spinal cord stimulator is often placed. This helps assess its effectiveness in managing your pain.
Recovery after spinal cord stimulator (SCS) placement involves taking certain precautions and following guidelines to ensure optimal healing. Postoperative Care Hospital Stay: You may need to stay in the hospital for a short period, depending on the complexity of the procedure and your overall health. Monitoring: Healthcare providers will monitor your vital signs and ensure there are no immediate complications.
Recovering from spinal cord stimulation (SCS) involves a comprehensive approach to ensure a successful and comfortable healing process. After undergoing the procedure, patients may experience a short hospital stay, during which healthcare providers closely monitor vital signs and assess immediate postoperative outcomes. The initial phase of recovery emphasizes proper wound care to prevent infections, with patients following specific guidelines for maintaining cleanliness and observing for any signs of redness or swelling.
Activity restrictions are common in the early stages of recovery, and patients are typically advised to limit certain movements to prevent strain on the incision site. Gradual resumption of normal activities is encouraged, with a focus on avoiding strenuous exercises until approved by healthcare providers.
Spinal Cord Stimulator FAQ
Q1: What is a spinal cord stimulator (SCS)?
A spinal cord stimulator is a medical device that is surgically implanted under the skin. It delivers mild electrical impulses to the spinal cord, helping to manage chronic pain.
Q2: Who is a candidate for spinal cord stimulation?
Candidates for spinal cord stimulation are individuals experiencing chronic pain that has not responded well to other treatments. Common conditions include failed back surgery syndrome, complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS), and neuropathic pain.
Q3: How does a spinal cord stimulator work?
The device produces electrical impulses that interfere with pain signals before they reach the brain, providing a tingling sensation that helps to mask or interrupt pain.
Q4: Is the implantation procedure painful?
The implantation is performed under anesthesia, so patients typically do not feel pain during the procedure. There may be some discomfort during the recovery period.
Q5: What is the recovery time after spinal cord stimulator implantation?
Recovery time varies, but many patients can resume normal activities within a few weeks. Strenuous activities may need to be limited for a more extended period.