What Is a Neurostimulator?

A neurostimulator is a surgically implanted device about the size of a stopwatch. It delivers mild electrical signals to the epidural space near your spine through one or more leads (special medical wires). The electrical signals cause a tingling sensation in the area of your back and leg pain.

How It Works

Neurostimulation provides pain relief by modifying (modulating) the pain messages before they reach the brain. Think of it like rubbing your "funny bone" after you've bumped it – the rubbing masks the feeling of pain. Similarly, the tingling produced by the neurostimulation system masks the feeling in your area of pain.

You can adjust the strength and location of stimulation using a handheld programmer. For example, you can regulate different levels of stimulation at different times of the day or for various activities – such as walking, sleeping, or sitting.

About the Neurostimulation System

A complete neurostimulation system consists of five parts:

  • Neurostimulator – The device that generates the electrical impulses (usually placed under the skin in your abdomen)
  • Leads – Special medical wires that deliver neurostimulation to the epidural space near the spine
  • Extension – The cable under the skin that connects the lead(s) to the neurostimulator (optional on some systems)
  • Physician’s programmer – A computer at your doctor’s office that lets your doctor adjust the neurostimulation system and set stimulation parameters
  • Patient’s programmer – A handheld device you can use at home to customise the stimulation (within the settings your doctor has selected)

The neurostimulation system does not make any noise. It may be felt as a small bump under your skin, but does not normally show through your clothes.

Information on this site should not be used as a substitute for talking with your doctor. Always talk with your doctor about diagnosis and treatment information.

Last updated: 27 Sep 2010

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