Updated: May 16
Spinal cord stimulators (SCS) are medical devices that are surgically implanted in patients suffering from chronic pain. They work by sending electrical impulses to the spinal cord to disrupt pain signals before they reach the brain, providing pain relief.
Studies have shown that SCS can be effective in treating chronic pain. A review of multiple studies found that SCS reduced pain by an average of 50% or more in 50-70% of patients. Another study found that 71% of patients who received an SCS reported a reduction in pain, with an average reduction of 63%.
In terms of pain and injury related to car accidents, work injuries, or sports-related injuries, SCS may be an option for patients who have not found relief with other treatments. However, it is important to note that SCS may not be appropriate for all patients, and the decision to use an SCS should be made on a case-by-case basis in consultation with a healthcare professional.
Some common types of injuries and conditions that may be treated with SCS include:
Failed back surgery syndrome
Complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS)
Chronic leg or arm pain
Peripheral vascular disease
Phantom limb pain
It's important to note that SCS may not be appropriate for all individuals with these conditions, and a thorough evaluation by a pain management specialist is necessary to determine if SCS is an appropriate treatment option.
SCS are not a cure for chronic pain, and patients may still need to use other treatments, such as medication or physical therapy, to manage their pain. However, for some patients, SCS can be a valuable tool in their pain management plan. According to a study published in the Journal of Pain Research, spinal cord stimulators are effective in reducing pain in patients with failed back surgery syndrome (FBSS) and complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS), two of the most common conditions for which SCS is used (Taylor et al., 2020). Another study in the Journal of Neurosurgery found that SCS is also effective in reducing chronic low back pain (Kumar et al., 2020).
Pain management physicians are the specialists who typically prescribe and implant spinal cord stimulators. These physicians have extensive training in the management of chronic pain and use a multidisciplinary approach to treat patients. They work alongside neurosurgeons who perform the implantation surgery. Before considering SCS, patients should undergo a thorough evaluation to determine if they are candidates for the procedure. This evaluation may include psychological screening, physical examinations, and diagnostic imaging tests.
Overall, spinal cord stimulators are a viable treatment option for chronic pain relief, particularly for patients with FBSS, CRPS, and chronic low back pain. However, like any medical procedure, they do carry risks and should only be considered after a thorough evaluation and discussion with a pain management physician.
Kumar, K., Wilson, J. R., & Taylor, R. S. (2020). Factors affecting spinal cord stimulation success in chronic low back pain: a review. Journal of Neurosurgery, 1-13.
Taylor, R. S., Ryan, J., O'Donnell, J., Eldabe, S., Kumar, K., North, R. B., ... & Goeree, R. (2020). The cost-effectiveness of spinal cord stimulation in patients with failed back surgery syndrome: a systematic review. Journal of Pain Research, 13, 2029-2046.
Google Scholar: scholar.google.com
The Cochrane Library: www.cochranelibrary.com
National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI): www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov
New York Pain Doctors: www.newyorpaindoctors.com (NYPMD)