A spinal cord stimulator (SCS) is a small medical device that is employed to mask pain signals before they reach the brain. It also refers to as Dorsal Column Stimulator. Generally, the Spinal cord stimulator generates a small electric impulse in the selected area of the spinal cord. So, it helps ease the pain of the patients. Therefore it is assumed as a viable option to the people tormented by severe back, leg, or arm pain without the use of medicines or therapy.
A spinal cord stimulator doesn’t eliminate the pain. It only changes how the brain perceives the pain. In short, the amount of pain relief felt varies for each person. As a result, it cannot guarantee to work for everyone. Considering this, a trial simulation is provided for a week. In case, the simulation fails to provide relief, we can remove SCS without any permanent damage to the spinal cord. Generally, the goal for a spinal cord stimulator is 50-70% pain relief to the individual.
The spinal cord stimulator was first used in 1971 with the report of its analgesic properties. Since then there had been a lot of development and making it a proven method of treatment today. Today we use a spinal cord stimulator for back pain surgery, complex regional pain syndrome, nerve damages, etc. Various companies have their own version of spinal cord stimulator with Wave Writer Alpha, Intellis Spinal Cord Simulation Platform, etc. being some examples.
In short, here are some pros and cons of the spinal cord stimulator.
Pros of spinal cord stimulator:
- Spinal cord stimulation relieves people from unbearable pain. Also, the pain relief is adjustable as per the patient’s request. Thus it can also enable the patients to take part in various recreational activities like swimming, running, etc. As a result, it also helps bring back joy into people’s life.
- Spinal cord stimulation is reversible with very few aftereffects to the patients. The patients can have a trial simulation for a week. In the off chance that it doesn’t provide the desired results, spinal cord stimulation can be removed with ease with no visible drawbacks.
- The surgery required for the spinal cord stimulator is quite minimal. Only a small incision is made for inserting the device with no aftereffects. Also, it can target specific nerves for proper pain relief to the patients.
- Spinal cord stimulation requires no medical prescription after the surgery. The patients do not require to consume medicines on the regular basis. Furthermore, it is more effective than traditional therapies.
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- The results of spinal cord stimulation vary from person to person. Some may feel relief while others can have no effect at all. As the results are not consistent, we cannot use it for all patients.
- Spinal cord stimulation requires the patient to have surgery for the procedure. There is always a risk of infection and bleeding in even the basic surgeries. Furthermore, it can also result in the leakage of spinal fluid which can result in headaches.
- The average cost of spinal cord stimulation is around $7,000-$10,000 which is not cheap by any means. Also, the price is susceptible to change depending on the location. Thus limiting its accessibility as many people can’t afford such a large amount. Furthermore, the patients should change the using generator batteries in the device after every 2-3 years which also can result in additional costs.
Although Spinal Cord Simulation won’t work for all people, it’s worth taking a test to know if we are a good candidate. Many patients report a 50%-70% decrease in pain after spinal cord stimulation. Thus, we can hope that will make our pain more manageable and bearable. With the rapid technological growth, we can believe that it can be an effective alternative to medications and therapies. Hence, if someone having severe pain for a long time, it can be worth a try.