How Does a Spinal Cord Stimulation Trial Work?

How Does a Spinal Cord Stimulation Trial Work?

Spinal cord stimulation is a cutting-edge technology our team uses when you have back or leg pain from nerve damage. However, before you can get the permanent spinal cord stimulator, you must undergo a trial to ensure it works for you.

Dr. Shachi Patel and the team at Delmarva Pain and Spine Center are experts in pain management for various conditions. When your back or leg pain is ruling your life, Dr. Patel offers state-of-the-art treatments like spinal cord stimulation to get you relief.

Understanding spinal cord stimulation

Spinal cord stimulation is a modern treatment used for difficult-to-treat pain. Dr. Patel typically uses this treatment when you have pain that's not responded to other less invasive treatments.

The stimulator contains several parts, including electrodes and a pulse generator or battery. Dr. Patel inserts the electrodes into the epidural space in your spine where the pain originates. These electrodes are then secured in place and connected to the pulse generator.

Dr. Patel implants the pulse generator in an area with extra fat, usually your abdomen or buttocks. After the procedure, Dr. Patel gives you a remote to control the internal stimulator.

There are many conditions for Dr. Patel offers spinal cord stimulation, a few of which include the following:

Although it's considered permanent, Dr. Patel can remove a spinal cord stimulator anytime if it stops working for you.

Why do you need a trial?

The spinal cord stimulator procedure is minimally invasive but requires sedation, anesthesia, and incisions in your back. For this reason, it's essential that you know if the treatment is going to work before you get the device implanted in your body.

Dr. Patel provides trial stimulation for any patient she thinks could benefit from the device. If she believes you could benefit from a spinal cord stimulator, Dr. Patel sets up your trial to ensure you get adequate pain relief before you undergo surgery.

How the trial spinal cord stimulator works

On the day of your trial, the team brings you into a procedure room in a gown, and you'll lie face down on the table. Dr. Patel cleans off your back with an antiseptic solution and injects a local anesthetic into the area where she'll be working.

Once you're numb, Dr. Patel uses fluoroscopy to determine the right level of your spine to work on. She then inserts a needle into your back at the correct level into your epidural space. Dr. Patel threads the electrodes on the leads into the epidural space to the area causing pain.

When the leads are in place at the right level, Dr. Patel attaches them to an external pulse generator and ensures you get coverage of your pain. She then secures the leads to your skin with sutures or heavy dressings.

The team provides you with a temporary remote that controls the leads in your back. Over the next five to seven days, you'll use the spinal cord stimulator as much as possible to determine if it works for you.

What happens next?

After your trial, Dr. Patel will meet with you to discuss how the stimulator worked. She'll want to know how much pain relief you got and if you felt the treatment helped you enjoy your everyday activities again.

Typically, Dr. Patel moves forward with the permanent spinal cord stimulator if you experienced at least a 50% reduction in your usual pain. If you experienced significant pain relief, Dr. Patel schedules you for implantation of the permanent device.

The permanent stimulator likely isn't worth it if you didn't experience significant pain relief over 50%. Dr. Patel will work with you to find a suitable alternative to the spinal cord stimulator.

If a spinal cord stimulator could help eliminate your pain, don't hesitate to call our office today at 302-355-0900 to schedule a consultation. You can also book an appointment with Dr. Patel on the website.

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