Spinal Cord Stimulation (SCS)

A spinal cord stimulator (SCS) is a small implanted device that sends electrical pulses to the brain to mask pain signal from reaching the brain, and has been used for almost 30 years to help patients reduce chronic pain and opioid usage.

Spinal cord stimulation is commonly referred to as nerve stimulation and has recently received more support in the medical community to help avoid over-prescription of opioids for pain management. Spinal cord nerve stimulation is a reversible procedure – recent technologies are far more advanced in personalizing the therapy and controlling pain over extended periods of time. Where many other solutions provide short to mid-term relief, nerve stimulation is a longer term pain relief solution for patients.

Failed Back Surgery Syndrome (FBSS)

Some patients experience chronic back and/or leg pain after surgery (usually a laminectomy), and spinal cord stimulation can help reduce pain, increase mobility, and improve quality of life.

Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS)

Complex regional pain syndrome is chronic pain that affects the leg, arm, hand, or foot, and develops after an injury, surgery, heart attack, or stroke.

Diabetic and Peripheral Neuropathy

Neuropathy is nerve damage that results in pain, weakness or numbness in the legs, feet, arms or hands.


Patients interested in spinal cord stimulation should consult with a pain specialist or clinic to learn if the therapy is right for their condition. Once a doctor has determined that the therapy could be effective, a patient will undergo a psychological assessment to ensure they are a good candidate for a successful outcome. Next, a patient will undergo a 3-10 day trial to ensure the device helps reduce appropriate pain levels and increases mobility before permanently implanting in the body. Most patients are discharged the day of trial or implant, are activity restricted for 2-4 weeks, and are fully recovered in 6-10 weeks.

Side Effects

Spinal cord stimulation is generally safe with most risks and side effects resulting from surgical mistakes, complications (infections) and postoperative challenges (scar tissue). Device-related problems can occur and are generally declining after 30 years of technology advancement. For some patients, there might be fluctuations in stimulation, pain might not disappear, discomfort around the generator or electromagnetic interference with an MRI machine (fortunately many devices are MRI-compatible). 

As with any medical procedure, spinal cord stimulation is not appropriate for everyone, and your doctor can tell you if SCS is right for your condition


These doctors specialize in chronic pain management and can help diagnose, treat, and manage your condition.


A doctor that administers medicine to put patients asleep during surgery, renders them numb for local procedures, or reduces chronic pain through injections.


A doctor specializing in physical medicine and rehabilitation that treats both acute and chronic pain with a variety of nonsurgical treatments.


A surgeon that diagnoses and treats pain resulting from disorders of the spine, spinal cord, nerves, brain, intracranial, and intraspinal vascular.

Orthopedic Surgeon

A surgeon that diagnoses and treats pain resulting from spinal disorders, arthritis, sports injuries, trauma, and fractures.


A doctor that diagnoses and treats chronic pain patients’ psychological disorders with counseling, behavioral therapy, and medication.

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