When back pain intrudes on your ability to work or lead an active lifestyle, there are a variety of services available to effectively address it. However, for some, physical therapy and even surgery aren’t enough to alleviate pain and restore normalcy in your life. If that describes you, Dr. Ayman Tarabishy offers alternative solutions.
Spinal cord stimulation is a unique alternative for treating chronic back pain that results from injury or disease. You may also benefit from this innovative treatment if you’ve undergone back surgery that failed.
The technology of spinal cord stimulation
A spinal cord stimulator is a small medical device that Dr. Tarabishy implants under your skin. The stimulator contains leads that attach to areas of your spine where pain signals originate. These leads send electrical impulses to the treatment area to disrupt pain signals that go to your brain.
There are several types of stimulators available based on your needs. Some devices are wired, while others operate wirelessly. Your medical history and the type and severity of your pain determine which stimulator system is right for you.
The voltage used by the stimulator is low but effective at addressing the cause of many types of back pain. One of the biggest benefits of this type of treatment is that you get to control the stimulator using a hand-held remote.
Conditions addressed by spinal cord stimulation
Spinal cord stimulation can control pain that arises from a degenerative disease or an injury. Dr. Tarabishy may recommend stimulation to address chronic back pain from:
- Nerve damage
- Peripheral neuropathy
- Complex regional pain syndrome
Typically, medication therapy and other nonsurgical treatments are offered before spinal cord stimulation is considered. You may even try surgery to repair spinal damage, but if surgery fails, spinal cord stimulation may still be a viable treatment option.
The trial phase
Before implanting a permanent spinal cord stimulator, Dr. Tarabishy recommends a trial period for most patients. During the trial, the leads are implanted, and the stimulator is programmed to address your specific needs.
A trial is necessary to ensure that a permanent spinal cord stimulator is the right option for the location and severity of pain. During this period, Dr. Tarabishy can also evaluate if the type of stimulator he’s using best suits your needs.
You get the added benefit of testing the stimulator settings and program options during the trial to make sure you’re satisfied with effectiveness and convenience of the technology.
If the trial stimulator is successful, you receive a permanent stimulator implant. During the procedure, Dr. Tarabishy inserts the stimulator leads into the epidural space within the spinal cord, using a needle or small incision. The generator that controls the stimulator is often placed in your buttock or abdomen. Some stimulators are wireless and don’t require an implantable generator.
Life after stimulator implantation
Following the implant of the stimulator leads and generator, your incisions are closed, and you spend a brief period recovering from the anesthesia before you go home to rest. Dr. Tarabishy ensures you know how to care for your incisions and how to properly program and use the stimulator.
You should experience immediate relief of your chronic back pain but you do need time to recover from the implantation surgery. It’s important that you avoid strenuous activities and heavy lifting initially with the implant to prevent the leads from disconnecting or being damaged. Until they settle in place.
With relief of your back pain, it should be easier for you to walk and engage in other light exercises to stay healthy and strengthen the muscles that support your back and spine.
If you’re struggling to cope with chronic pain or had an unsuccessful back surgery, learn more about the benefits of spinal cord stimulation by calling Dr. Tarabishy at the Enhance Center office today.