Wednesday, August 10, 2016
Annie Burton, MD, has recently completed a fellowship in interventional pain at the University of Minnesota. There, Annie Burton, MD, performs such pain management procedures as spinal cord stimulation.
Spinal cord stimulation, or SCS, can offer relief for patients with chronic pain in the back or limbs. The technique requires the introduction of small and soft wires that transmit current from a generator to the spinal nerves. This current interrupts the transmission of pain signals and replaces them with what the brain perceives as a slight tingling.
Because spinal cord stimulation blocks and does not destroy pain messages to the brain, relief varies from patient to patient. However, the majority of patients report up to 70 percent less pain and noticeable increases in function, as well as less dependency on pain medication. Physicians often recommend that a patient try SCS on a trial basis, so that they can test its effectiveness before implanting a permanent system.
The typical permanent system includes an implantable generator, a connector wire, and a lead with four to 16 electrodes. The patient also receives a remote control that can adjust the pulses based on how his or her pain changes over the course of the day. Typically, the device includes a choice of settings that the physician programs into it, according to the patient's needs.