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Should You Consider Spinal Cord Stimulation for Your Chronic Neck or Back Pain?

Chronic neck and back pain are common, and they tend to become even more common as you get older. In fact, some data suggest more than 80% of people over the age of 60 have some degree of chronic neck or back pain. 

Many younger people deal with painful symptoms on a regular basis, too.

Relieving chronic pain can be difficult, especially if you want to avoid taking pain medicine for a prolonged period of time. Pain medicine provides relief for many people. But when taken over time, these medicines can cause side effects ranging from unpleasant to dangerous.

As a leading interventional pain management practice in Eugene, Oregon, Pacific Sports and Spine offers innovative treatment options for chronic neck pain and back pain, including spinal cord stimulation for long-term relief without the risks of medication. 

Here’s how it works and how to tell if you’re a candidate.

Spinal cord stimulation 101

Pain occurs when the pain receptors on your nerves are stimulated or excited. Your nerve pathways carry those signals to the brain, which interprets the signals as pain. 

People with some chronic pain problems, like chronic regional pain syndrome or fibromyalgia, have receptors that are extremely excitable, and even mild stimulation can result in pain signals being sent to the brain.

With spinal cord stimulation, our team uses a tiny device, or generator, that we implant near your spine. The device emits its own electrical signalling in very mild pulses. The pulses travel along very thin wires, or leads, to your spine, where they interfere with nerve signalling to block sensations of pain.

Trial run

Before having a spinal cord stimulator implanted, we conduct a trial run to ensure the device will be effective in providing you with relief from your specific symptoms. We make a small incision over your spine, removing a very tiny amount of bone to make room for the electrical leads. 

We place the ends of the leads in the epidural space between your spinal cord and your vertebrae, and attach the other ends to the generator. 

You wear the generator on your waist, and keep a pain journal to record how well the device manages your pain. If the device provides ample relief, then we may recommend surgery to implant the generator under your skin.

Surgery and recovery

Surgical placement of the spinal cord stimulator uses a special type of X-ray called fluoroscopy to ensure precise placement. During the surgery, we place the leads in the epidural space and suture them in place. 

We implant the generator under your skin near your buttocks (or sometimes in the belly area). The leads run under your skin, from your spine to the generator.

We often perform this surgery on an outpatient basis, but in some cases, you might return home the day after the device is implanted. Recovery takes about 10 days. We give you complete instructions on what activities you can perform and how you should care for the incision sites.

How to tell if you’re a candidate

A spinal cord stimulator can be a good option for many patients with chronic pain, including pain from:

During your initial visit, we discuss your symptoms and your medical history, then perform a complete evaluation to determine if a spinal cord stimulator would be effective for your specific pain.

Find relief for your chronic pain

Spinal cord stimulation provides safe, effective, long-term pain relief for many men and women, but it’s not the only option we provide. Finding the best treatment for you starts with a consultation and evaluation. 

To learn how we can help you find the relief you’re seeking, contact our Eugene, Oregon, office today.

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