Spinal Cord Stimulation Trial

Source: WebMD

Spinal cord stimulation, otherwise known as neurostimulation therapy, is a type of chronic lower back pain treatment. It involves surgically implanting a device under the skin that is designed to send a mild electric pulse to the spinal cord to control or relieve chronic pain.

Getting to Trial

Screening trials are available for individuals who have been experiencing pain for more than six months. The purpose of a screening trial is to determine what the individual’s results may be like before having the device implanted. During the screening, the individual will be able to identify how well the spinal cord stimulator relieves their pain during various activities. They will also be able to get familiar with the system components and the different levels of stimulation that are available before they decide if they want to go ahead with the surgery. Unlike many other procedures in healthcare, spinal cord nerve stimulation is one you really get to try before you have to buy.

Potential nerve stimulation users go through a temporary trial of the system to determine if the process is right for them, over a ten day trial period. During the test period, individuals are asked to pay attention to how much the device reduces their pain. The temporary trial consists of the following components:

  • An external neurostimulator that is worn on the waistband and generates mild electronic pulses to the nerves
  • A screening cable that connects to insulated wires placed near the spinal cord through an epidural to deliver electrical pulses
  • A pouch that clips on the waistband and contains all of the temporary external neurostimulation system components
  • A handheld, wireless device that works similar to a remote control to adjust the levels of stimulation
  • Installing the nerve stimulation components takes about 30 to 90 minutes and can be done in your physician’s office. The procedure may include being given a local anesthetic and placing a needle near the spinal cord similar to an epidural. A doctor will use an x-ray to guide the position of the needle. The doctor willl ask questions to target the painful area. Temporary leads will be taped or secured to the back for the duration of the ten-day trial, and the external neurostimulator system will be attached to the waistband.

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