Missing the green because you can't stand the pain of your swing? Our team understands that sometimes you miss out on your favorite things because of your pain, but that doesn't have to be the case. For many pepole, Spinal Cord Stimulation has helped them get back to whatever is they love, including their golf game.
Pain signals from the body are sent to the brain via the spinal cord. These signals are sent using electrical signals similar to how a telephone line carries a voice message to the listener. A lot of time and effort have been spent on understanding exactly which parts of the spinal cord carry pain signals to the brain. Spinal cord stimulators take advantage of this knowledge by creating a new electrical signal that effectively blocks the pain signal and replaces it with a gentle tingling sensation. Certain pain signals can therefore be replaced by this much more pleasant sensation.
There are many diseases that can be treated with electrical simulation including back and leg pain, pain from peripheral vascular disease, complex regional pain syndromes, nerve injury, phantom limb pain, chest pain and others.
If your provider feels you would be a good candidate for spinal cord stimulation to help manage your pain, there are several things you should know. Firstly, all patients who are medical candidates for stimulation must undergo a psychological evaluation to assure that they are well-adjusted and fully understand the goals of treatment. Secondly, patients will undergo a trial period where the spinal cord stimulator wire is placed using a single needle into the back and rested near specific parts of the spinal cord. This wire is then connected to a device outside the body that creates the stimulation and also has controls that can be used to adjust settings for the device including the intensity and location of stimulation. This trial period typically lasts roughly one week. If patients feel that their pain is significantly improved during the trial period, they can be scheduled to undergo permanent implantation of the device. They will still have a controller that they can use to adjust the pattern and strength of the stimulation that they feel. It is common and expected for the device to have to be adjusted or reprogrammed by the device manufacturer’s representative during the first 4-6 weeks after it is permanently implanted as the body forms natural scar tissue around the electrodes in the spine.
Long-term studies show that 88-92% of patients feel spinal cord stimulation gives them fair to excellent relief of leg pain and approximately 85% of patients feel fair to excellent relief of low back pain. These are excellent numbers for an otherwise chronic and debilitating problem. Among patients who have undergone spinal cord stimulator implantation, greater than 90% feel that the procedure was worthwhile. If patients feel that the device stops working for them for whatever reason, troubleshooting the device will usually resolve the problem. Or, the device can simply be turned off and, in rare cases, removed.
Your provider can more fully discuss in detail the risks and benefits of spinal cord stimulation and answer any specific questions you might have.
Give us a call or scheudle an appointment to see if our highly rated care team can help you get back to the game. Trust us, your golf clubs miss you too.
Washington Center for Pain Management