If you’ve tried surgery, medication, and other conventional therapies without success, your Southern California Advanced Pain Medical Group practitioner might recommend a spinal cord stimulator or SCS implant. Learn more about how this device and the impact procedure work to bring you relief and keep you active.

How Does A Spinal Cord Stimulator Bring Relief?

SCS devices use electrical impulses to prevent pain signals from reaching your brain. Your implant will have two parts – a battery pack and the electrodes used to deliver these electrical signals. You’ll use a remote control to program the type and strength of pain relief you need.

Types Of Spinal Cord Stimulators

Your LA pain specialist will help you choose from available SCS device types. Your decision may depend on the power levels you need, the desired time between surgeries, and the availability of each type of stimulator.

  • Implant Pulse Generator (IPG) – Not rechargeable. Lower power output. Needs to be replaced every 2 to 5 years.
  • Rechargeable Implant Pulse Generator – Rechargeable. Higher energy output. Needs to be replaced every 8 to 9 years.
  • Radiofrequency Stimulator – Rechargeable. Higher energy output. Generator placed outside the body.

Are You A Good Candidate For SCS?

If you have been suffering from neuropathic pain for more than six months and have not had any success with conservative treatments, you may benefit most from spinal cord stimulation. SCS implants are used for chronic pain in areas like the arm, legs, and back.

  • Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS)
  • Peripheral Vascular Disease
  • Multiple Sclerosis (MS)
  • Spinal Cord Injury
  • Sciatica
  • Persistent Arm Pain
  • Arthritis
  • Spinal Stenosis
  • Nerve Damage.
  • Diabetic Neuropathy
  • Failed Back Surgery Syndrome
  • Arachnoiditis
  • Stump Pain
  • Angina

How SCS Implantation Works – Testing

Spinal cord stimulator implantation involves two main phases: the testing phase and permanent placement. The testing phase is important for making sure you are a good candidate for this pain blocking procedure.

  • As you lay face down under sedation or local anesthesia, a small incision is made in your lower back.
  • We use fluoroscopy to precisely guide the SCS electrodes through the epidural space of the spine.
  • Your pain doctor may also use your live feedback to make sure you get a good placement.
    At this stage, the battery pack (generator) is left outside, usually on a belt.
  • You will use the trial spinal cord stimulator for about a week to make sure you are experiencing at least a 50% reduction in your pain.

What Happens After The Trial Period

If the testing phase is successful, you can schedule a date for your surgery, and we will permanently implant both the electrodes and the generator for you. If not, we will remove the electrodes and explore other pain treatment options.

Spinal Cord Pain Implant Aftercare

Once you have an SCS implant in place, your pain doctor will give you aftercare instructions. It’s important to follow these instructions to avoid complications like bleeding or infection.

Here are answers to a few questions you may have about getting a spinal cord stimulator implanted.

  • Yes, you can swim with a permanently placed SCS device. You’ll want to skip the pool while you are still in the testing phase, though.
  • Yes, you may set off airport security, but your doctor will give you a card that may allow you to bypass these scans. Otherwise, you can turn your device off before stepping through the scanner.
  • Yes, as long as you power off your device, you can usually get x-rays and CT scans.
  • No, MRIs are not usually safe for SCS implant patients. Your doctor will be able to determine compatibility with your specific device.
  • No, driving or operating heavy machinery is not recommended with these devices.

Learn More About SCS Surgery In LA

If you are interested in the relief a spinal cord stimulator can bring you, schedule an appointment to speak to an Advanced Pain Medical Group doctor today. We have 8 convenient locations in West Hills and throughout Southern California – including LA County, Ventura County, and Kern County.