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Spinal cord stimulation

For some patients with chronic pain, spinal cord stimulation provides a safe, effective means of managing pain so that they can return to a more normal lifestyle. Spinal cord stimulation uses low-voltage electrical currents to either block or reduce pain messages from being sent to the brain. Spinal cord stimulation replaces painful areas with a pleasant, tingling feeling. Most patients report a 50-70 percent reduction in pain.

Spinal cord stimulation involves a minor procedure. The patient is first given a trial for several days to make sure the treatment works well. This is followed by a local anesthetic and usually intravenous sedation. The physician will numb the area of the patient's back where the lead (a catheter with a series of electrodes at the tip that delivers electrical stimulation) will be inserted near the spinal cord. It will then be determined where the patient feels the gentle stimulation. Optimal position leads to optimal relief.

If the trial shows that this treatment works very well a permanent system is put in place. The electrodes will be replaced and a pulse generator, a type of battery, will be placed under the skin

After the procedure, the patient is taught how to operate the stimulator system. While strenuous activity should be avoided following the surgery, light exercise is encouraged to build strength.

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