Frequently Asked Questions – Neurostimulators

What is neurostimulation and how does it work?

A neurostimulator is a surgically placed device about the size of a stopwatch. It delivers an electrical signal to the epidural space near your spinal cord through one or more leads (special medical wires). This signal prevents complex regional pain syndrome pain messages from reaching the brain.

Is it right for me?

Talk to your doctor to determine what kinds of pain treatments would work for you. The choice of treatment depends on the type of pain, how severe it is, and how you respond to your pain treatment. If your doctor thinks you are a good candidate for neurostimulation, you can complete a neurostimulation screening test so that you can experience the therapy to see if it will work for you.

How does neurostimulation feel?

The sensation felt from neurostimulation varies from person to person, but most people report a mild tingling sensation in the area of their pain.

Will neurostimulation completely eliminate my chronic pain?

Typically, people who find the treatment helpful experience greater than 50% pain relief.1-6 However, neurostimulation does not eliminate the source of the pain, so the amount of pain reduction varies from person to person.

Will the neurostimulation system eliminate other sources of pain?

Your neurostimulation system will not provide relief from other types of pain such as headaches, stomachaches, or fractures.

How big is a neurostimulator?

The exact dimensions and weights of the device vary by model.

What is the surgery like?

The surgery to implant the neurostimulation system takes approximately 1 to 3 hours and may require a hospital stay.

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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