Neurostimulator – what is epidural spinal cord stimulation?
If chronic back pain persists even after treatment with modern methods, a so-called neurostimulator can provide permanent relief. Principle: When stimulating the spinal cord, gentle impulses inhibit the redirection of pain to the brain. This minimally invasive procedure has long taken its place in pain management and has been around for over 30 years. About 1500 patients are treated annually with this method in Ukraine.
The procedure is called: epidural stimulation of the spinal cord (English spinal cord stimulation = SCS). This is by far the most common form of neurostimulation. The method involves the introduction of one or more electrodes into the epidural space and the supply of current through the electrode contacts. The electrodes are connected to a so-called neurostimulator or neuromodulator, which is inserted under the skin of the patient’s abdomen. The contact between the electrodes and the neurostimulator leads to stimulation of the posterior spinal cord, and the patient now notices a pleasant tingling where he had severe pain before the treatment. With this therapy, in which electrical impulses prevent or relieve pain, the nerves are not damaged. In addition, with a single movement of the hand, the patient can turn the device on and off, as well as adjust the strength of the desired stimulation. Anyone who has ever suffered from prolonged pain knows that pain can often lead to depression, and some people cannot concentrate on their work at all. The SCS procedure provides sustainable pain relief and gives the patient a new quality of life.When is epidural spinal cord stimulation recommended?
There are many indications for recommending spinal cord stimulation. It is preferred when conservative methods no longer help. That is, it is mainly used for chronic pain. For example, with radiating pain due to scarring after surgery on the intervertebral disc (post-nucleotomy syndrome).
The method is also indicated for the so-called complex regional pain syndrome type I and II (CRPS/Sudeck syndrome), peripheral arterial occlusion (nerve pain due to circulatory disorders in the legs), extremely painful diabetic polyneuropathy and phantom pain. If heart pains in the chest and arms due to disorders of the cardiac circulation (angina pectoris) are no longer amenable to cardiac treatment, then stimulation also makes sense. Patients with migraine and previous shingles infections (posthosteric neuralgia) also report significant pain relief and a striking improvement in quality of life after spinal cord stimulation. After accidents involving the nerves in the arms or legs, as well as after surgery for varicose veins and inguinal hernia, some professional communities also recommend treatment with the SCS procedure.
The course of the operation – treatment begins with a conversation to collect an anamnesis
The whole procedure consists of several stages. It all starts with an accurate neurological-orthopedic examination and an intensive conversation with the patient to take an anamnesis.We must find out exactly where the causes of the complaints are, and when we know this, whether neurostimulation will be useful or effective. This includes other imaging studies such as an MRI and/or CT of the areas around the spine. After that, if we understand that neurostimulation makes sense, we will discuss it with you and recommend this method to you.
Benefits/Complications – The success rate is approximately 85%!
The sooner you decide on neurostimulation, the more effective the pain treatment will be. To put it in numbers, if you endure pain for two years and then do this procedure, then 85% of these patients had a successful treatment. If the duration of the pain syndrome is more than 15 years, the success rate drops to 9%. On average, more than 50% of all patients benefit from neurostimulation. In addition, this method of pain treatment has the advantage of a quick recovery because it is minimally invasive. In addition, you need to take less painkillers, which may have led to nausea, dizziness, constipation, and chronic liver or kidney damage in the past. And one more thing: you can control the intensity of stimulation yourself.
Important: follow the advice of your specialist doctor and do not start aggressive mobilization too soon after implantation
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