Spinal cord stimulation (also called SCS) uses electrical impulses to relieve chronic pain of the back, arms and legs. It is believed that electrical pulses prevent pain signals from being received by the brain. SCS candidates include people who suffer from neuropathic pain and for whom conservative treatments have failed.
The injection site is anesthetized. One or more insulated wire leads are inserted through an epidural needle or through a small incision into the space surrounding the spinal cord, called the epidural space.
FIND THE RIGHT LOCATION
Electrodes at the end of the lead produce electrical pulses that stimulate the nerves, blocking pain signals. The patient gives feedback to help the physician determine where to place the stimulators to best block the patient's pain. The leads are connected to an external trial stimulator, which will be used for approximately one week to determine if SCS will help the patient.
If the patient and physician determine that the amount of pain relief is acceptable, the system may be permanently implanted. At the end of the trial implantation, the leads are removed.
INJECTING THE MEDICINE
Next, the physician injects medicine. It bathes the nerves. It can numb the nerves and reduce inflammation. If these nerves have been a source of pain, the medicine can relieve it. The injection may also provide other benefits, depending on your needs.
END OF PROCEDURE
When the procedure is complete, the needle is removed and the injection site is covered with a bandage. You will be monitored for a brief time before you are allowed to go home. After a lumbar sympathetic block, many people experience leg numbness or weakness. This is normal, and usually lasts for only a few hours. You may need to return for more injections in the future.