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Spinal Cord Stimulation (SCS)

Spinal Cord Stimulation (SCS) is a pain relief technique that delivers a low-voltage electrical current continuously to the spinal cord to block the sensation of pain. SCS is the most commonly used implantable neurostimulation technology for management of pain syndromes. As many as 50,000 neurostimulators are implanted worldwide every year. SCS is a widely accepted FDA-approved medical treatment for chronic pain of the trunk and limbs (back, legs and arms).

  • Chronic pain is longstanding pain that persists beyond the usual recovery period or that accompanies a chronic health condition. Because this pain is not protective and is not a result of an ongoing injury, it is referred to as "pathological" and is therefore treated as a condition, not as a symptom. Chronic pain may prevent people from working, eating properly, participating in physical activity, or enjoying life.

Implantation of SCS:  

The patient will likely be under general anesthesia the entire time. The leads are inserted in the epidural space above the spinal cord after a small laminectomy has been performed. The exact location of the lead or leads depends on the specificity of the patient’s pain. The generator is usually implanted in the abdominal or buttock region, but the physician/patient may determine other comfortable areas in which to place it.

  • Once the leads and generator are in place, connected and working, the incision will be closed, a dressing applied, and the patient will be taken to recovery, where he or she will be slowly withdrawn from the anesthesia. Most patients go home the same day. Before being released from the hospital, the patient will receive instructions on caring for the incision area and how to program and regulate the SCS device.
  • Following implantation, lifting, bending, stretching, and twisting should be avoided. However, light exercise, such as walking can be helpful to build strength and relieve pain.
  • Although there may be some discomfort while the surgical incision heals, most patients say that they cannot feel the presence of the device under the skin after healing takes place.