What to Expect During Your Spinal Stimulator Trial Run

What to Expect During Your Spinal Stimulator Trial Run

Your back pain could stem from any number of issues. Fortunately, while there are seemingly countless causes of back pain, you also have access to a wide range of treatment options. 

The trick is to find the right solution for the cause of your specific back pain and the symptoms you’re experiencing. Here at Hawai’i Pain and Spine, on the Windward side of O Ľahu in Kailua, Dr. Jonathan D. Carlson can help you find the right treatment or combination of treatments to bring you relief. 

In some cases, he recommends spinal cord stimulation. This option can be particularly useful because it targets the pain right where it starts — pain signals in your nerves — and you can try a trial run to see if it works for you.

The basics of a spinal stimulator trial run

A spinal cord stimulator (SCS) works by sending small electrical impulses that interrupt pain signals from your spine before they can reach your brain. This makes it extremely effective for back pain that hasn’t responded to other treatments and pain that’s coming from an unknown cause. 

If Dr. Carlson recommends an SCS and you agree to take it for a test drive, the process starts with a minor procedure. Using local anesthetic and a small incision or a needle, Dr. Carlson places wire leads in a targeted location on your back. You shouldn’t feel any discomfort during this process. 

During your trial, you use a remote device to activate the electrical impulses from the leads using a small battery that stays outside your body. Most people wear the battery on their belt during their trial run. 

The week-long trial and next steps

In the week that follows the placement of your leads, you use the external battery to apply pain relief when you need it. You’ll be able to increase or decrease the amount of electrical stimulation based on your current discomfort level. 

After a week, you return to discuss your results with Dr. Carlson. If the SCS reduced your pain by at least 50%, Dr. Carlson considers it a success and discusses the permanent SCS process with you.

Basically, this process removes the external battery that you wore and replaces it with a small, permanent implantable pulse generator (IPG) battery. This goes under your skin so you can carry your back pain relief with you wherever you go. 

Dr. Carlson usually performs this implantation as an outpatient procedure, which means you can go home the same day. Recovery time generally lasts about two months, but most people get back to light activities within a couple of weeks. 

Because the SCS comes with a trial period to find out if it works for you, it’s an excellent option for back pain that hasn’t responded to other treatments. To see if Dr. Carlson recommends it for you, call our office to schedule your appointment today.

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