How Does a Spinal Cord Stimulation Trial Work?

How Does a Spinal Cord Stimulation Trial Work?

You’ve tried all the standard treatments for pain relief, but nothing has helped. Our expert staff at Apollo Pain Management provides pain relief for many patients whose pain hasn’t been resolved by medication, physical therapy, or other standard treatments. 

Your doctor may have recommended a spinal cord stimulation (SCS) trial to see if this treatment helps relieve your pain. During the trial, you get to test the system. 

SCS helps many people, but it doesn’t help everyone. The trial allows you to find out if this treatment is going to help you. 

What happens during a spinal cord stimulation trial? 

The spinal cord stimulation trial isn’t a surgical procedure; it’s a minimally invasive one. First, we cleanse and sterilize the area. Then you receive a local anesthetic to numb discomfort during the process. 

Next, your expert, board-certified pain management physician inserts a needle into the epidural space in your spine, which is between your spinal cord and your vertebrae. The epidural space is the same area where cortisone injections are placed. You might have had a steroid shot in the past. 

Your provider uses X-ray guidance to ensure the needle is properly placed. Then, again using X-ray guidance, your provider inserts very thin wires (called leads) through the needle into the epidural space and moves the wires to the target area where you experience pain. Your doctor asks you to provide feedback so that the leads are set in the correct position to give you the most pain relief. 

During the final step of the procedure, your Apollo Pain Management doctor attaches the lead to the outside of your skin with a surgical dressing. A suture may be required. 

Your doctor then secures the neurostimulator to your back with strong tape. It’s about 2” x 3” in size. You have a handheld device that regulates the neurostimulator. You activate the stimulator when you’re in pain. 

How long do I test the neurostimulator? 

Your test lasts for one week. Your doctor asks you to keep a careful record of your pain levels throughout the week. A pain log is a helpful tool. Following are some questions your doctor is going to ask you at the end of the trial period: 

During the week, the neurostimulator manufacturer may contact you to ask you for feedback. They may change settings on the device to help reduce your pain levels if the device isn’t working well for you. 

How do I take care of the neurostimulator during the trial? 

Your doctor provides written instructions for the week of the trial. It’s important to keep the neurostimulator dry, so you’ll need to take sponge baths during this time. 

You can take a walk in the neighborhood, but we ask that you forgo vigorous exercise for the week of the trial, since it could affect the system’s performance. Don’t worry, though. If the device works for you, you’ll be able to continue your normal exercise routine once the stimulator is implanted. 

Your Apollo Pain Management physician removes the leads at your visit at the end of the trial. It’s similar to having an IV removed. 

Call Apollo Pain Management or book an appointment online today for compassionate treatment for your chronic pain. We have offices in Bradenton and Sun City Center, Florida.

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