Spinal Cord Stimulators
Pain signals travel along the spinal cord to the brain. SCS therapy applies electrical doses directly to the nerve fibers, changing the pain signal into something the brain interprets as a sensation called “paresthesia.” Patients generally describe it as a gentle tingling or massage-like feeling.
Patients must first complete a spinal cord stimulator trial to determine the effectiveness of the treatment. The patient receives a temporary, nonimplanted (external) system. Wire leads connect the external trial device to electrode contacts placed over the spinal cord. The system delivers electrical impulses that can mask pain signals.
After a successful trial and psychiatric evaluation are successful, the patient can proceed with the permanent implant. A small, rechargeable implant called an Implantable Pulse Generator (IPG) is surgically placed in a comfortable, convenient position under the patient’s skin. Flexible leads that were inserted into the epidural space near the spinal cord are connected to the IPG unit. Each lead has a number of tightly spaced electrode contacts. The IPG unit produces electrical impulses that travel along the leads to the contacts to deliver pain-masking signals. Afterward, the patient controls the stimulation fields with a remote control unit.