New Developments in Spinal Stimulation for Pain Management

Nov 20, 2018 | Markus (Mark) A. Bendel, M.D. | @markusabendelmd | Comments (14)

patient and provider looking at spinal column

Spinal cord stimulation (SCS) has been a medical treatment available for certain types of chronic pain for over 50 years.  In general, this minimally invasive therapy involves putting a small lead in the spinal canal and using electrical energy from a battery to stimulate the sensory nerves of the spinal cord. This has been shown to decrease chronic pain from a variety of conditions.

There has been a rapid expansion of technologies and therapies in this area over the past few years.  Physicians are now able to treat certain pains more effectively than ever before. These new technologies are related to both better equipment technology, stimulation targets, and also how the electrical energy is delivered to the spine and nerves. In addition to treating chronic nerve pain, there have been improvements in the ability to treat chronic back pain, post-knee surgery pain, post-hernia repair pain, and foot pain. Traditionally, patients who have a spinal cord stimulator would feel a pleasant, buzzing sensation (called a paresthesia) in the area of their pain. Now, certain technologies allow for stimulation without creating this sensation, which some patients prefer. Other new technology allows for more specific stimulation of a particular area of the body, which has been shown to be valuable for certain pain problems. Many systems now are compatible with MRI machines which had been a hurdle for some patients in the past.

Generally, a pain medicine physician would be a good source of information to determine if a certain technology would be beneficial for an individual patient. All of this means that there are more options than ever before to treat a wide variety of patients!

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My pain management doc has recommended Stim Wave intervention for my chronic abdominal pain from my cystectomy and inguinal hernia repair. The stinging, burning pain is near my stoma. He claims very good results with this technology, and any input, pro or con, would be appreciated.

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@quark

My pain management doc has recommended Stim Wave intervention for my chronic abdominal pain from my cystectomy and inguinal hernia repair. The stinging, burning pain is near my stoma. He claims very good results with this technology, and any input, pro or con, would be appreciated.

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Make sure they do a test to see if it's going to work before they do the permanent installation. If it doesn't work ask about having an intrathecal pain pump installed instead. This pump has a catheter that runs up your spine and leaks tiny amounts of Narcotics directly into your spinal fluid and is tremendously effective without any of the side effects of Narcotics. Meds delivered this way are 100 to 300 times more effective then things that you put in your mouth and have to run through your digestive system. I've had one since 2017 and it has made my life worth living again. It's not perfect, it doesn't take away all your pain but it also doesn't leave your stupid and sleepy like 230 grams of Narcotics a day will do.

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@quark

My pain management doc has recommended Stim Wave intervention for my chronic abdominal pain from my cystectomy and inguinal hernia repair. The stinging, burning pain is near my stoma. He claims very good results with this technology, and any input, pro or con, would be appreciated.

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to quark – I had a Nevro stimulator implanted last October 2020. The trial (which I wore on a belt for a week) work beautifully. I am still in the process of adjusting the implant, but I've already achieved about 50% improvement. Mine is MRI compatible and I have the proper medical proof to board a plane. btw – my implant is for spine i.e. scoliosis, spondyllisthesis, 3 level lumbar fusion, and therIe are 6 screws in there too. I'll try to answer any questions you have.

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wow!! all good news glad to hear about your journey, hope it keeps getting better for you, thanks for the info.

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@lifetimepain

to quark – I had a Nevro stimulator implanted last October 2020. The trial (which I wore on a belt for a week) work beautifully. I am still in the process of adjusting the implant, but I've already achieved about 50% improvement. Mine is MRI compatible and I have the proper medical proof to board a plane. btw – my implant is for spine i.e. scoliosis, spondyllisthesis, 3 level lumbar fusion, and therIe are 6 screws in there too. I'll try to answer any questions you have.

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I'm happy that you got some relief. How often do you have to charge the generator/battery?

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@martyk

I'm happy that you got some relief. How often do you have to charge the generator/battery?

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@martyk, according to this article https://www.spine-health.com/treatment/pain-management/recharging-rechargeable-scs
"Reports vary regarding how often a rechargeable SCS must be recharged. Many estimates are about once a week, but patients have reported needing to recharge closer to once every other day or even just once a month."

Marty, I believe you were directing your question specifically to @lifetimepain. Lifetimepain, how often do you have to charge the battery or generator of your stimulator?

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Hi, @martyk. @ifetimepain here. I have the Nevro SCS and it has to be charged daily, takes 20-30 mins. You also have to charge the charger by plugging it into the wall at bedtime. In the mornings, I unplug it from the wall, put the paddle behind me on top of the device, and when it finds the device (takes a bit of shifting around) you'll see 1, 2, or 3 circles light up – kind of like the bars of cell phone reception. Then you just sit there till it beeps at you. The rechargeable implant should last 5-10 years.

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Do you get relief from your SCS ?

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Some. A little bit disappointed because the trial sent the signal in a 360 degree pattern, the implant is much more focused and I think it's not in the EXACT same place as the trial was. It's kind of stupid because the permanent implant should replicate the trial, and I know it's not. The trial gave me 80% relief which was almost unbelievable! The implant now reduces my pain maybe 30-40% – which the company considers a success. I know it could be better.

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@colleenyoung

@martyk, according to this article https://www.spine-health.com/treatment/pain-management/recharging-rechargeable-scs
"Reports vary regarding how often a rechargeable SCS must be recharged. Many estimates are about once a week, but patients have reported needing to recharge closer to once every other day or even just once a month."

Marty, I believe you were directing your question specifically to @lifetimepain. Lifetimepain, how often do you have to charge the battery or generator of your stimulator?

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Some SCS need to be recharged .Other's I have been told need no recharging. It depends on the manufaturer

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@mikeoc

Do you get relief from your SCS ?

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I had the Traditional SCS made by Boston Scientific implanted last year. Only got about 10-15 % relief. I also developed a minor back pain. Not sure if it was caused the implanted battery. I had the SCS removed after 2 months.

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@martyk

Some SCS need to be recharged .Other's I have been told need no recharging. It depends on the manufaturer

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@colleenyoung it actually depends on the model. Abbott has various models, one that does not need recharging and one that does. I have the type that I need to recharge. I know someone who does not need to recharge his.

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