All About Neurostimulators
Lower back and neck pain is becoming more common, and doctors have found inventive forms of pain management. Neurostimulation is a therapy designed to relieve pain by disrupting pain signals between the spinal cord and the brain. Each neurostimulator is an implantable device about the size of a stopwatch. The neurostimulator is surgically positioned under the skin near the abdomen or upper buttock. Thin medical wires, called leads, are placed near nerve pathways that carry pain signals. There are 2 types of neurostimulators, the peripheral nerve stimulator (PNS) and the spinal cord stimulator (SCS) differing only in the kind of pain and the location of the leads.
The trial period
Not everyone is a good candidate for neurostimulation. Even those who qualify are typically scheduled for a trial run first. During the trial period, the doctor will insert only the wires, and an external transmitter will be used to send the electrical pulses. The trial typically lasts 5-8 days. The doctor will ask about the level of pain relief in different situations. The patient is able to adjust the frequency should the pain intensifies.
What to expect during the trial?
After the medical team installs the leads, the patient is sent home with instructions on how to use the device. The neurostimulator should begin to take effect about 24 hours after the procedure. A pain log sheet is provided to guide in tracking pain levels and experiences with the device. In addition to evaluating pain, patients should note the quality of sleep, daily activities, and pain medication use. Side effects are unlikely, but if the device doesn’t work well, removal can take place. The trial is successful if the neurostimulator reduces pain by at least 50% and will then be considered for long-term use.
When will it work?
Neurostimulation therapy is not intended to cure chronic pain. This device minimizes symptoms to improve the overall quality of life. With this procedure, most patients experience immediate relief, with effects peaking within 24 hours. Patients with chronic nerve pain or failed back surgery are ideal candidates for the procedure. The trial mimics the exact effects of an implanted neurostimulator before committing to long-term use. If the test is a success, patients can proceed with the surgical installation of the device. The device lasts several years, and most users notice an improved quality of life.
Stimulating pain relief
For people suffering from back or neck pain, neurostimulator treatment may be the answer. Patients can consider a trial run to determine if this implant has the ability to reduce pain and improve quality of life. Talk to a doctor to determine if this small device may be the answer to untreatable pain.