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Grand Junction, CO

Spinal Cord Stimulation (SCS)

What is spinal cord stimulation (SCS) treatment? Spinal cord stimulation (SCS) is an FDA-approved, minimally invasive therapy that masks pain signals before they reach the brain using a low-voltage electrical current via a spinal cord stimulator. It has been found to help with chronic pain management and can promote a reduction in opioid medication usage.

What does SCS treat?

Spinal cord stimulation is used to provide pain relief for chronic pain syndromes. Chronic pain is different other types of pain since it persists long beyond the usual recovery period. It is not a result of an ongoing injury, so it is considered a condition, and not a symptom. It can prevent people from working, eating exercising and fully enjoying their lives.

SCS can be used as a pain relief treatment for neurological conditions including:

  • Arachnoiditis
  • Complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS)
  • Failed-back surgery syndrome (FBSS) or post-laminectomy syndrome (lumbar or cervical)
  • Nerve damage, neuropathy or neuritis

Is a spinal cord stimulator right for me?

Any candidate for SCS undergoes a trial procedure first to gauge pain relief and see what combination of SCS device type, setting and program is most effective.

You may be a candidate for SCS if:

  • You suffer from chronic back, leg or arm pain with no relief from other therapies.
  • You don’t want further surgery because of the risks or long recovery.
  • You don’t have untreated depression or drug addiction; these should be treated prior to SCS.
  • You have no medical conditions keeping you from undergoing implantation.
  • You have had a successful SCS trial.

What happens in spinal cord stimulation treatment?

In the procedure, a spinal cord stimulator device is surgically placed under the skin and sends a mild electric current through a wire to a lead on the nerve fibers of the spinal cord. This blocks signals from the pain area and provides pain relief.

The minimally invasive surgery generally takes 1 to 2 hours, consisting of placement of the lead in the epidural space of the spine and of the pulse generator in the buttock or abdomen.

1. Lying on your stomach, you are given light sedation. Next, your back and buttock are prepped where the lead and generator are to be placed. A local anesthetic will be used to numb the incisions.

2. The electrode leads are inserted with the aid of X-ray. A small incision is made in your mid-back, exposing the vertebra.

3. Your surgeon removes a portion of the bone to allow room to place the lead. The leads are secured with sutures above the spinal cord.

4. You will be awakened to help the doctor determine how well the stimulation covers your pain pattern. Your feedback is important to ensure the best pain relief, so the pulse generator may be programmed with the correct stimulation settings.

5. Once the leads are in place, sedation is given again. The lead wire is passed under the skin from the spine to the buttock, where the generator will be implanted.

6. A small skin incision is made below the waistline, creating a pocket for the generator beneath the skin. The lead wire is attached to the pulse generator, which is then correctly positioned within the pocket.

For the first week after the procedure, you might experience some discomfort and swelling at the incision site. Icing for 20 minutes on, 20 minutes off, as well as taking any doctor-ordered pain medication, is recommended.

It may take up to 12 weeks for the implanted leads to heal in place. During this time, your stimulator program may need to be adjusted, which your doctor can do during your follow-up visits.

Questions about spinal cord stimulation?

For more information about spinal cord stimulation (SCS), please call us at 970-242-0162 to schedule your initial consultation.


201 West Park Drive • Grand Junction, CO 81505
Fax (970) 242-1097

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