When conservative treatment options have been exhausted and a patient is still suffering from pain, an interventional pain physician may consider a spinal cord stimulator for neurostimulation.
Spinal cord stimulators consist of an implantable pulse generator (IPG), which is approximately the size of a stop watch, and one or more leads (special medical wires) that deliver an electrical signal to the epidural space near your spinal cord. This signal provides pain relief by modifying (modulating) pain messages before they reach the brain.
Spinal cord stimulators are an attractive option for most patients due to the fact that the process first involves a trial period to allow the patient to test the stimulator without undergoing implantation of the device. If the patient experiences relief during the trial period, the stimulator is implanted beneath the skin. Because of the relatively small size of the device there is little concern for aesthetic consequences.
Neurostimulation can be effective for a number of conditions including radiculopathy, failed back surgery syndrome, peripheral neuropathy, complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS), pelvic pain, bladder pain, abdominal pain, leg pain, and headaches.
Angelie Singh, MD, MPH, MS