Living with chronic back pain can be an excruciating experience. Since curing such ailments is impossible, the only option left to the patients is pain management treatments. With time, pain-managing processes have become more efficient in reducing the intensity of pain and showing patients a way back to normal lifestyle. Spinal cord stimulation (SCS), although not a new treatment process, is showing comparatively better results in reducing chronic back pain. This treatment option was approved by the FDA in 1989, and since then has worked wonders in the many pain clinics located in Tampa and other cities across the US.. Experts like Dr. Ashraf Hanna who is the director of pain management at the Florida Spine Institute approves of using SCS technology to reduce chronic back pain. If you or someone close to you is suffering from severe back pain, this article is for you.
How it Works
Spinal cord stimulation uses electricity to block out the pain signals in or around the injured spinal cord area. Your doctor must recommend SCS before you can undergo the treatment. How effective is it? Very. If you are looking for a number, it’s often 50 percent or more pain reduction. If you are curious to know the details about the process, here it is. Electricity is directly applied in or around the injured area by inserting needles into your back with electrical leads attached to them. Electrical leads go in to a generator that supplies electricity to the injured area. Can this treatment eliminate pain? No it can’t! BUT it can reduce the intensity of pain by blocking the pain signals, which is the best treatment you can get for chronic pain problems. As soon as you turn on the generator, the painful sensations will be replaced by a tingling feeling in your back. On an average results show that the patients return to various activities with ease, after undergoing this treatment.
Advantages of SCS Treatment
Implementation of SCS treatment can offer a better pain management to patients who are suffering from the Complex Regional Pain Syndrome. Those who went through a Failed Back Surgery can also reduce pain through this option. Modern and comparatively new treatment ideas like Peripheral Nerve Field Stimulation, Nerve Root Stimulation, and Dorsal Root Ganglion Stimulation are using this process to reduce pain in the lower back or foot area. Here are a few more advantages of the SCS treatment:
- It has little to no side effects
- Implanting this system can be done through minor invasive surgery
- Patients can engage in activities (travel, swimming) with an activated implant
- It offers pain relief to cut down usage of pain medication
- Allows better pain management even if the pain changes location
- Long lasting power generators and modern electrode designs offer pain relief for hours
The advantages are many, but knowing about them leads us to yet another vital question.
When Can You Try This Treatment
You can opt for this treatment if you are diagnosed with chronic back pain. But, generally, patients who went through conservative pain management programs opt for this treatment. Let us highlight a few situations that can lead you to select SCS.
Failure in Back Surgery: In case your spinal surgery fails to take care of the chronic pain, you can opt for spinal cord stimulation. With axial back pain, failed back surgery can introduce radicular leg pain into your life. A study involving 50 patients, selecting between SCS treatment or re-operation for their spinal injury, has vouched for the benefits of SCS treatment over surgery. This study yielded positive health improving results in than 47 percent of the people who selected SCS, while only 12 percent of people in favor of surgery showed benefits in pain management from surgical intervention. There were, however, a few doubts regarding the efficiency of SCS in addressing axial low back pain. As an answer to this, experts have undertaken research and experiments with single or double paddle leads. These experiments prove that placing a single paddle lead on the mid line of spine can bring better results for the patients.
Complex Regional Pain: Swelling and disabling pain radiating in a specific area of skin is considered to be Complex Regional Pain. Reasons behind this ailment is still under speculation, and doctors believe that it could be a number of things including sympathetic dysregulation, inflammation, tissue hypoxia, small fiber damage, or central sensitization causing such problems. Treatment results explains that besides taking care of the neuropathic pain, SCS can adjust mediated pain as well. This treatment has also yielded positive results in complex regional pain management. A patient can see results after a few months of treatment.
Trying conventional chronic pain management treatments with apparently little to no results can make you a candidate for SCS. But, you also need to get a ‘no psychiatric conditions’ statement from your doctor. Your treatment provider in pain clinics may even recommend you to opt for a shorter trial period of SCS before considering a permanent implant. This trial period can help you determine whether it is right for you or not.
Consider the Hybrid Leads for Quick Relief
Hybrid leads are showing better results when used in SCS treatment to manage chronic pain. These paddle shaped leads can be inserted surgically or by using needles to pierce the upper layers of the skin. Result of a study involving 45 people using hybrid lead shows that 42 of them experienced reduced pain intensity throughout the trial period and they approved of permanent system implants. So, we can safely assume that placing a paddle shaped hybrid lead can be the best tool for SCS.
What if It doesn’t Work?
Although, SCS treatment works on most people, there are exceptions where it didn’t help with the pain. So, going through the trial period seems to be wise for patients who are suffering from chronic pain. The treatment process can be stopped at any time without inflicting any kind of damage to your body. So, if it doesn’t work for you, you can just move on to a different option without any complication or restrictions.
SCS can be considered as the breakthrough in medical technology to suppress chronic pain. Many Tampa pain clinics, just like clinics in other parts of the US can guide you in the right direction. You can contact them to know more about this method of pain management. Yes, the pain would still be there even after the treatment, but it would have no power over your life choices anymore.