Long-term (chronic) back pain can greatly interfere with your life by making it difficult to perform even the simplest task. But successful relief from the pain is often elusive. Invasive surgery, pain medications, and other therapies can worsen the initial issue or bring on troubles of their own. Narcotic pain medications, for instance, can lead to dependence that endangers your social, emotional, and physical health.
Spinal cord stimulators have been used for decades to help control back pain by blocking pain signals traveling from your spine to your brain. While often helpful, spinal cord stimulation can provide only minor pain relief for some individuals, or perhaps create side effects, such as a tingling sensation in the affected area, that many people find difficult to tolerate.
Fortunately, spinal cord stimulators have undergone significant changes in recent years, leading to improved pain relief and decreased side effects. These FDA-approved advances have captured the attention and the praise of the interventional pain specialists at Pain Medicine Consultants in Pleasant Hill, California.
Patients in their busy practice have reported significant improvement with use of the new generation of spinal cord stimulators, and these well-respected pain medicine specialists often recommend this innovative treatment for effective, drug-free relief from chronic back pain.
How does spinal cord stimulation work?
First approved by the FDA in 1989, spinal cord stimulation (SCS) uses very mild electrical impulses (neurostimulators) to block pain signals that travel from your back to your brain. The goal of the treatment is to greatly reduce, or even eliminate, your chronic back pain and return you to a more comfortable and active life.
With SCS, your doctor implants a very tiny, programmable generator just beneath the surface of your skin. Electrical leads attached to the generator are directed toward the affected regions of your spine. Small electrical currents are then passed from the generator through the leads toward the areas of the spinal cord where your pain originates.
These electrical impulses block the pain without the side effects caused by medications and can be adjusted as necessary if your pain changes or lessens.
How are new spinal cord stimulators better?
Continued medical research and improvements in nerve stimulation technology provide a whole new generation of spinal cord stimulators that have proven much more effective in relieving your pain and decreasing irritating side effects, such as that tingling sensation you might have experienced with earlier SCS technology.
High frequency (HF-10 kHz) stimulation, burst stimulation, and dorsal root ganglion (DRG) stimulation are three of the latest SCS modalities.
HF-10 eliminates that tingling sensation (paresthesia) so common with other types. It also provides significantly better coverage and thus reduces lower back pain much more reliably than older systems.
Burst stimulation allows a few paraesthesias but still reduces the effect greatly and provides significant coverage for your lower back, the most commonly reported area of back pain.
DRG stimulation provides better outcomes for patients with complex regional pain syndrome and delivers consistent stimulation regardless of postural variations.
And with clinical trials currently underway regarding SCS systems that use wireless technology, it’s clear that science continues to seek effective, drug-free alternatives for treating low back pain.
Schedule a visit today at Pain Medicine Consultants to find out whether spinal cord stimulation for relief from chronic back pain is right for you.