A Closer Look into Spinal Cord Stimulator Surgery

A spinal cord stimulator is an implanted device that sends low electricity levels into your spinal cord to relieve pain. Doctors recommend this treatment after nonsurgical treatment techniques fail to provide enough relief. Clark spinal cord stimulator involves two processes. The trial procedure tests whether the device works for you and a permanent implantation process if the treatment relieves pain. Spinal cord stimulators relieve many types of chronic pain, including back pain, spinal cord injuries, heart pain, nerve-related pain, and arachnoiditis. This therapy can improve sleep, reduce the need for pain medications and improve the overall quality of life.

What happens during the spinal cord stimulator trial?

The trial process involves your surgeon implanting a temporary device for you to test. It usually requires only one incision in your lower back for electrode placement. With the aid of a specific form of X-ray known as fluoroscopy, your surgeon carefully inserts the electrodes in the epidural space of your spine. The electrodes will be placed where you experience along your spine. Your surgeon may ask for feedback during placement to help position the electrodes in the right area.

The generator or battery will be outside your body. You will wear a belt around your waist to support the generator. You will evaluate how the stimulator reduces your pain for about one week. Doctors consider the trial procedure successful if you experience a fifty percent or more reduction in pain level. If unsuccessful, your doctor removes the wires carefully without damaging your spinal cord or nerves. If successful, the doctor will schedule a permanent implant of the device.

What happens during the implantation of a permanent spinal cord stimulator?

During the permanent implantation process, your surgeon places the generator underneath your skin and replaces the trial electrodes with sterile electrodes. Unlike the trial electrodes, your surgeon anchors these with sutures to reduce movement. The entire process takes one to two hours.

After your surgeon administers local anesthesia, the provider makes an incision along your lower abdomen or buttocks to support the generator. The surgeon makes another cut along your spine to insert the permanent electrodes. Fluoroscopy helps your provider determine where to place the electrodes. Once the electrodes and generator are in place and running, your specialist will close the incisions.

What should you expect after spinal cord stimulator placement?

Most patients leave the medical facility the same day after spinal cord stimulator placement. Your incisions may be painful for several days after surgery. Avoid stretching or twisting as it can pull the incisions, causing more pain and delaying healing. The dressings placed over the cuts can be removed after three days. In most patients, incisions heal within two to four weeks after surgery. Within the first two weeks after surgery, avoid vigorous activities. Your surgeon will tell you when to resume work and driving.

Although rare, you may experience complications after surgery like bleeding, infection around the incisions, device migration, Dural puncture, or device damage. Consult your specialist immediately if you encounter any of these complications.

A spinal cord stimulator is an implanted device that sends low electricity levels into your spinal cord to relieve pain. Doctors use it to relieve chronic pain when other nonsurgical treatments are ineffective. Schedule an appointment at University Pain Medicine Center for spinal cord stimulator surgery to alleviate your chronic pain.