What is a spinal cord stimulator?

A spinal cord stimulator (SCS) is a type of implantable device that is used to send electrical signals to select areas of the spinal cord for the treatment of certain pain conditions. SCS is a consideration for people who have a pain condition that has not responded to more conservative therapies or other types of pain procedures.

Nerve signals are being transmitted from the body to the brain constantly. This helps prevent injury by making a person aware that something is wrong. Unfortunately, when nerves are damaged, they can send pain signals to the brain even if an injury is not occurring. Spinal cord stimulation can be used to disrupt these signals so the brain doesn’t receive them.

Why would you need a spinal cord stimulator?

The most common reason a patient will have a spinal cord stimulator placed is because of chronic pain. Spinal cord stimulation offers a non-opioid, FDA approved alternative when other chronic pain treatments have failed. The most common causes of lower back pain respond well to spinal cord stimulation generally (facet joint pain, SI joint pain, and of course nerve related pain (like sciatica) down the legs).

Chronic pain develops when the body’s appropriate response to an injury lasts longer than it should. This pain no longer protects the body from injury but becomes harmful on its own. Chronic pain can lead to problems working, eating, exercising, or pursuing other activities of daily life.

Risks Involved

Our ability to use imaging guidance and cutting-edge technology minimizes patient risk.  Prior to your procedure, your physician will discuss any potential risks with you.

Conditions to let us know about

Let your doctor know if you currently are pregnant or breast feeding, feeling ill, have a fever, or are taking any blood thinners.

Insurance coverage

The placement of a spinal cord stimulator is covered by most private insurance providers as well as Medicare. We will seek authorization from your insurance company prior to your procedure. A psychological assessment is a requirement by most insurance companies before authorization will be given for the trial or the implant itself.  This is easy to do, generally conducted by phone, and usually takes about an hour.

Preparing for your procedure

If you are on blood thinners your doctor will instruct you if you need to stop these medications prior to the procedure. If your procedure requires sedation, then you will need a responsible adult to give you a ride home.

Recovering from your procedure

You will receive moderate sedation during your procedure.  You will stay in the recovery area until you are ready for discharge. You will be given written post procedure discharge instructions that will advise you about return to normal physical activity. If you have any questions after your procedure, please call the RIA Endovascular Clinic at 303-930-2849, or the McKee IR nurses at 970-820-6178.

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