How Does a Spinal Cord Stimulation Trial Work?

How Does a Spinal Cord Stimulation Trial Work?

Do you suffer from a spinal condition that causes daily pain? If a doctor has suggested spinal cord stimulation (SCS), but you’ve hesitated because you think it might not help, think again. You can have a trial run without full implantation to find out if SCS works for you.

At CHOICE Pain & Rehabilitation Center, with multiple locations in Maryland, our team of board-certified pain management specialists diagnoses conditions that cause back pain and conducts spinal cord stimulation trials to see if SCS brings ongoing pain relief of 50% or more.

SCS basics

Spinal cord stimulation works through a small implanted pulse generator, called a stimulator, to send electrical signals through tiny implantable wires called leads.

Tiny pulses of mild electric current travel through the leads to target specific spinal cord nerves, disrupting pain signals traveling to your brain and giving relief.

Your SCS system includes an external remote control programmed with settings designed for you. When you have pain, you turn your system on. When you feel relief, you turn it off. 

You can target different nerves to relieve pain in different areas of your body, increasing and decreasing the level of stimulation.

How SCS works

SCS doesn't eliminate pain. However, it changes how your brain perceives pain signals sent from nerves in your spinal cord. Many pain signals simply stop triggering your brain’s responses. Others cause a slight fluttering feeling or a mild tingling. 

In most cases, the goal is an overall reduction in your pain levels of at least 50%.

Candidates for an SCS trial

SCS usually is recommended for back pain patients who haven’t found relief from conservative methods. Such candidates may wish to avoid or delay surgery, might’ve had a failed surgery, or can’t have spinal surgery for medical reasons.

Conditions we can treat with SCS include: 

If you have any of these conditions or another one that causes pain due to nerves around your spinal cord, contact us for a consultation and SCS trial.

What happens during an SCS trial? 

Before implanting a permanent SCS system, we encourage a trial to diagnose which nerves are sending pain signals and whether SCS brings significant pain relief.

We use a hollow needle to carefully place electrical leads into your epidural space, targeting the nerves we believe are the source of your pain. We connect the leads to an external device that you control to activate the pain-blocking leads. 

We monitor you for a week, adjusting the leads if necessary to ensure we target the correct nerves and adjusting the device for maximum pain relief.

If you experience at least a 50% overall reduction in your pain, we proceed with the complete SCS system implantation. If the SCS ever stops working for you or you want it removed, we can remove it. 

Does your back constantly hurt and traditional medical approaches and medications just aren’t working? Spinal cord stimulation might be the answer. Call the CHOICE Pain & Rehabilitation Center location closest to you or request an appointment online today.

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