If you have chronic back, leg, or arm pain that doesn’t respond to conservative therapies, you may be a candidate for a spinal cord stimulator. Interventional pain management specialist Dr. Jeff M. Arthur helps adults in Kingwood, Texas, and the surrounding communities find relief from chronic pain with this device that’s permanently inserted into the body. Find out more about spinal cord stimulators by calling his office or booking an appointment online today.

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What is a spinal cord stimulator?

A spinal cord stimulator blocks pain signals before they reach your brain. It’s a small device, about the size of a 50-cent piece, that’s implanted surgically under your skin. It sends a mild electrical current to your spinal cord. The electrical pulses effectively mask the pain signals from these nerves so they can’t reach your brain.

Who is a candidate for a spinal cord stimulator?

For patients whose pain has not responded to other pain management techniques, a simple test can be performed where electrodes are inserted into the epidural space through needles, which are removed. The leads stay in place for a few days to see if the electrical stimulation will alleviate the patient’s pain. If this is successful the patient is then scheduled for a permanently implanted stimulator.

Conditions that Dr. Arthur can effectively treat with a spinal cord stimulator include:

  • Sciatica
  • Ongoing pain caused by spinal stenosis
  • Failed back surgery
  • Complex regional pain syndrome
  • Painful neuropathy

How is a spinal cord stimulator implanted?

Dr. Arthur implants a spinal cord stimulator during a minimally invasive surgical procedure done on an outpatient basis, so you won’t have to worry about an extended hospital stay — you go home the same day.

During the procedure, Dr. Arthur gives you a light sedation and local anesthesia to numb the area where the implant is placed. The electrodes are inserted into the epidural space through needles. Then the patient is awakened to describe the area of sensation so that the location of the leads can be adjusted to ensure effective pain relief. Once the leads are in the correct place, Dr. Arthur makes a small incision in your back to secure the leads of the stimulator with sutures in the epidural space above the spinal cord. Dr. Arthur adjusts the settings and placement of the stimulator accordingly. Dr. Arthur then inserts the generator in a pocket under the skin below the waistline.

Once you have the spinal cord stimulator implanted, you have control over regulating the strength and duration the stimulation period. You use a handheld device to turn it on and off, select programs, and select the intensity of the stimulation. Some people keep the stimulator on at all times; others use it only during certain activities.

How effective is spinal cord stimulation in reducing pain?

Dr. Arthur only recommends the treatment to patients he believes will experience successful results. Research reports that spinal cord stimulation shows good to excellent long-term pain relief in 50-80% of patients with chronic pain.

Call the office or book an appointment online with Dr. Jeff M. Arthur to learn more about spinal cord stimulators and their positive effect on chronic pain.