Daily Living – Neurostimulators

If successful, neurostimulation can help you manage your chronic pain and improve your ability to participate in your usual daily activities.1-6 Talk with your doctor about activities that may be easier with neurostimulation. 

Life With a Neurostimulator 

After the initial healing period (6-8 weeks), neurostimulation therapy for pain relief will become a routine part of your day. 

The neurostimulator: 

  • Does not make any noise 
  • Does not usually show through your clothes 
  • May be felt as a small bump under your skin 
  • Can be adjusted using hand-held programmers (similar to a mobile phone or pager) 

Doctor Visits 

A typical follow-up schedule is once every 6 months, although initially the neurostimulation system may require more frequent adjustments. Your doctor may want to see you more or less frequently, depending on your pain treatment plan. 

Between visits, you should call your doctor if: 

  • You experience additional/unusual pain 
  • You notice unusual changes in the quality of your stimulation or you experience no sensation when the neurostimulation system is turned on 
  • You are increasing stimulation more often than normal 
  • The stimulation pattern changes unexpectedly 

Realistic Expectations 

Realistic expectations are key to satisfaction with any pain treatment. It is important to remember that your neurostimulator will not eliminate the source of your pain or cure any underlying disease, but can help you manage the pain. 

Removing the Neurostimulator 

If you no longer need the neurostimulator or change your mind about the pain treatment, your doctor can turn it off or remove the system completely. 

References

  1. North R, Kidd D, Zuhurak, M, et al. Spinal Cord Stimulation for Chronic, Intractable Pain: Experience Over Two Decades. Neurosurgery 1993;32 384-395. 
  2. Kumar K, Toth C, Nath R, et al. Epidural Spinal Cord Stimulation for Treatment of Chronic Pain—Some Predictors of Success. A 15-Year Experience. Surg Neurol 1998;50:110-121. 
  3. De La Porte C, Van de Kelft E. Spinal Cord Stimulation in Failed Back Surgery Syndrome. Pain 1993;52:55-61. 
  4. Devulder J, De Laat M, Van Bastalaere M, et al. Spinal Cord Stimulation: A Valuable Treatment for Chronic Failed Back Surgery Patients. J Pain Symptom Manage 1997;13:296-301. 
  5. Burchiel K, Anderson V, et al. Prospective, Multicenter Study of Spinal Cord Stimulation for Relief of Chronic Back and Extremity Pain. Spine 1996;21:2786-2794. 
  6. Turner J, Loeser J, Bell K. Spinal Cord Stimulation for Chronic Low Back Pain: A Systematic Literature Synthesis. Neurosurgery 1995;37:1088-1096.

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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