By: Michael Rose
A spinal cord stimulator (SCS) aims to reduce chronic back and leg pain significantly. It is a particularly viable pain management option for those who have yet to find an effective form of treatment in conventional therapies and systemic pain medications. Or for those who have experienced negative side effects from these treatments.
You may be eligible to receive a spinal cord stimulator
A patient may be eligible to receive a spinal cord stimulator due to various issues. In some cases, failed back surgery (FBS or failed back surgery syndrome) is the cause of persistent and recurring back pain. In these cases, patients have undergone surgery to fix a back problem. But they have found the surgery ineffective in pain management.
A spinal cord stimulator implant may help to reduce this pain. The SCS can also treat inoperable ischemic limb pain. That is back pain caused by oxygen deprivation in the back. The implant also treats patients with reflex sympathetic dystrophy (RSD or Type I Complex Regional Pain Syndrome). RSD symptoms include a burning sensation in an extremity (arms, legs, hands, and feet), pain, tenderness, swelling, motor disability, visible pathological changes (such as texture, color, and temperature of the extremity), and stiffness. RSD can be caused by sprains, fractures, surgery, blood vessel and nerve damage, and brain injury.
Spinal cord stimulators are implanted
The implant is a form of stimulation therapy that helps control back and leg pain by sending small electrical impulses to the spine. That distracts the brain from detecting pain signals. The spinal cord stimulator is implanted in the lower back; specifically, it is placed in a narrow cavity in the spine called the epidural space. Along with the implant itself, the owner is given a small external remote that allows him/her to generate a pulse by signaling the implant.
The spinal cord stimulator is attached to the spine through leads. They are connected to wires that produce electricity via a battery. The stimulator sends low currents of electricity through these wires into the leads. The electrical currents from the leads create a tingling sensation that disguises the pain signals as they travel to the brain. The owner feels less discomfort than they normally would without the presence of the stimulator.
After a physician consultation, patients undergo a trial period during which they have the electrodes placed in their epidural space. This trial period lasts three to seven days. If, after this period, the patient has experienced a pain reduction of over 50%, a surgeon will anchor the electrodes to ligaments in the spine. They will position the pulse generator and implant the connecting wires. Every surgery has its adverse effects, but the spinal cord stimulator implantation is considered minimally invasive and is easily reversible compared to conventional back surgeries.
High success rate
Patients who receive the SCS implant two years after they begin experiencing back pain have a success rate of over 75% (Science Daily). The SCS may be more cost-effective for some patients considering repeat surgery or other costly treatments. Boston Scientific and Medtronic are the leading producers of spinal cord stimulators. They range in price from $20,000 to $60,000; however, health insurance will frequently cover all or part of the cost of a spinal cord stimulator.
Untreated chronic pain leads to a myriad of unfortunate side effects. Pain sufferers may experience anxiety and depression, economic hardship, increased stress, and work absenteeism. Sometimes, the back and leg pain a patient is experiencing may have been completely preventable. Herniated discs, which lead to surgery, RSD, and other back and leg injuries, are frequently caused by one-time injuries. These include falls and heavy lifting– or consistent repetitive motion. If you are experiencing chronic back/leg pain, talk with your doctor about the spinal cord stimulator and other treatments. Additionally, you may want to consider speaking with an attorney. Your injury may have occurred due to negligence. If you or a loved one is experiencing back and/or leg pain due to an injury, you may be entitled to compensation from an at-fault party.
Call our personal injury attorneys
At Hach & Rose, LLP, we have recovered millions of dollars for those who suffer from chronic pain. We obtained a $6 million jury verdict for a woman who suffered from RSD due to a knee injury on the job. We won over $3.5 million for a construction supervisor who injured his back falling off of a ladder. A $2.2 million jury verdict for a man who suffered a back injury following an automobile accident. And $1.2 million for a construction worker who tripped on debris. Contact Hach & Rose, LLP at (212) 779-0057 to speak with one of our New York City personal injury attorneys, who are more than happy to assist you in determining your legal rights.