Spinal Cord Stimulation Implantation for Pain Relief (Trial Phase)

The trial phase of spinal cord stimulation implantation for pain relief involves the temporary placement of nerve stimulators, which are small medical devices, in the patient’s body. The device creates nerve signals to interrupt the transmission of pain signals from the spine to the brain, providing effective pain relief. The sensation of pain is transformed into pins and needles or numbness instead. The patient can determine the level of stimulation for different times of the day or adjust the level to accommodate the activity being performed. The device can be controlled with something that is similar to a television remote control.

Benefits of the Trial Phase
To test the temporary spinal cord stimulation device for its effectiveness in relieving pain in patients with chronic pain that do not require surgery.
After you have been position on your stomach on the operating table, the doctor will make a small incision in your back to insert the wire that will disrupt the pain signals into the spinal canal in the area where the pain is felt. The doctor will then use a fluoroscopy machine to check the position of the lead wire as well as ask you about your sensation. Once the wire is placed in the appropriate position, it will be connected to an external stimulator. The wire and stimulator will be attached at the back and stomach of you with waterproof bandages.
Complications are rare in this procedure, but all surgery has certain risks, as follows:
  • Possible side effects that can occur, depending on the person and how they respond to the procedure, include:
    • Pain persists because the nerves are not stimulated.
    • Irregular nerve stimulation, providing erratic pain relief.
    • Stimulation of the wrong nerves due to the movement of the lead wire.
    • Stimulation causes discomfort or pain where the lead wire is placed.
    • Problems with the programming or transmission of the device.
  • Treating symptoms with rest, physical therapy, and/or pain medication.
  • Injection of corticosteroids into the nerve canal to reduce inflammation.
  • Spinal fusion.

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