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Spinal Cord Stimulation Specialist

Hawaii Pain & Spine

Jonathan D. Carlson, MD

Pain Management Physician and Interventional Pain Specialist located on Windward, Oahu

If despite trying every possible treatment, you are still in severe pain because of a chronic neuromusculoskeletal condition, you might be a good candidate for a spinal cord stimulator. This advanced, implantable technology works directly on your pain nerves and is a treatment Jonathan D. Carlson, MD, of Hawai'i Pain & Spine in the Windward area of Kailua, Hawai'i, has found beneficial for many patients. Dr. Carlson is a highly experienced expert in chronic pain management. Call today to schedule a consultation or book an appointment online.

Spinal Cord Stimulation Q & A

What is a spinal cord stimulator?

A spinal cord stimulator is a device Dr. Carlson implants under your skin if you have chronic back, arm, or leg pain that doesn’t respond to more conservative treatments.

The spinal cord stimulator (SCS) sends electrical pulses that interfere with your brain’s ability to receive pain signals from your nerves. Since it acts directly on the nerves, spinal cord stimulation is often highly effective for neuropathic pain and neuralgia, as well as functional back pain where there are no alternative treatments.

Dr. Carlson implants the spinal cord stimulator surgically, so before you go through with the procedure, you have a week-long trial to make sure that SCS gives you enough pain relief to make surgery worthwhile.

How does the trial implantation of a spinal cord stimulator work?

The trial implantation still requires a degree of surgery, just not as much as full implantation, so you need a local anesthetic to numb the area. When you’re ready, Dr. Carlson inserts a needle into the epidural space in your spine or makes a small incision through which he passes specially insulated wire leads.

At this stage, Dr. Carlson asks you to tell him when you feel the most pain relief so he can position the leads in the optimal place. The leads connect to a trial stimulator unit, which you control using a remote device. This allows you to increase or decrease the amount of pain relief as you need it.

After your trial week, you go back to Dr. Carlson to see if the SCS was effective enough for you to have a permanent implant.

How is the permanent spinal cord stimulator implanted?

For the full implantation, you are sedated or get a general anesthetic. Dr. Carlson positions the permanent leads in the epidural space, then makes a small cut in the skin on your abdomen or buttock in which he places the permanent implantable pulse generator (IPG) battery. The leads connect to the IPG implant, and Dr. Carlson sets up the programmer for you to use.

Following the permanent implant procedure for your spinal cord stimulator, you might have some swelling and soreness, but this is typically mild. Patients usually get used to having their implant very quickly.

To find about more about spinal cord stimulator technology and whether it’s right for you, call Hawai’i Pain & Spine today or book an appointment online.