What Is A Spinal Cord Stimulator?
Spinal cord stimulators (SCS) have been around since the 1960s. Each year, over 30,000 patients receive this technology to help in managing pain. How does the stimulator work? Can the device offer effective pain management for chronic neck pain?
How does the technology work?
Spinal cord stimulators are small, implantable devices that deliver electronic signals to the spinal cord. These small stimulators are similar to pacemakers and can be extremely useful for chronic pain management. When the device is implanted under the skin, the electric current blocks pain signals from reaching the brain, thus reducing pain.
Does this eliminate pain?
Spinal cord stimulators can reduce pain, but patients should understand how the technology works. The devices don’t get rid of the source of pain. Instead, these stimulators interfere with pain signals so that the brain doesn’t register any discomfort. In some cases, this technology can offer a 50-70% reduction in pain, with minimal to no side effects.
Who is the right candidate?
This treatment option is typically not the first pain management technique a doctor will try. Pain management specialists may opt for physical therapy, steroid injections, or other treatments before trying an SCS. The treatment may also be a good option for patients who are not good candidates for surgery or who have had unsuccessful surgery in the past.
Additional pain management options for neck pain
Most neck pain improves after a couple of weeks with some rest and stretching. In some cases, when neck pain does not improve, patients may consider seeing a pain management specialist. A pain management specialist may prescribe muscle relaxers, physical therapy, steroid injections, or short-term immobilization with a soft collar.
Preventing neck pain
Chronic neck pain can be a symptom of an underlying condition. However, for many people, some simple lifestyle changes can help prevent neck pain. People who work at computers regularly should set up an ergonomic work station where screens are at eye level. Regular exercise and stretching help to improve mobility and strength. In cases of mild to moderate neck pain, patients may find relief through over-the-counter pain relievers, rest, or hot and cold therapy.
Pain management options
Neck pain is widespread. But chronic pain shouldn’t just be accepted. There are pain management options to help patients find relief. People who experience constant neck pain should consult with a pain management specialist to find solutions and treatment options.