Chronic pain can be debilitating and affect all aspects of your life. Finding the right treatment to alleviate pain is sometimes difficult. Highly trained pain specialist Dr. C. Weston Whitten offers a number of treatments to help you better manage your pain, including the spinal cord stimulator, which relieves pain by blocking nerve signals. Call the Nebraska Pain Institute in Lincoln, Nebraska, or book an appointment online to learn more about the spinal cord stimulator and other treatment options for chronic pain.
A spinal cord stimulator is a device that Dr. Whitten implants near your spinal cord to block nerve signals to your brain, which reduces pain sensations. The device can’t eliminate the source of your pain, but it can relieve the feeling and may help reduce your reliance on pain medications.
The spinal cord stimulator works by sending a constant low-level electrical current to the nerves in your spinal cord. Also referred to as neurostimulation, the electric pulses prevent the pain messages from traveling up your spine to your brain.
Dr. Whitten must conduct a thorough examination to determine if you’re a good candidate for the spinal cord stimulator.
Conditions that Dr. Whitten can successfully treat with the spinal cord stimulator include:
Dr. Whitten may also recommend the spinal cord stimulator if you’ve had neck or back surgery that didn’t relieve your pain.
If you’re considered a good candidate, Dr. Whitten first conducts a trial run of the stimulator. During the trial, he attaches electrodes to your spine, but doesn’t surgically implant the stimulator. The trial period lasts up to seven days and is performed to assess the effectiveness of treatment before surgical placement. Dr. Whitten performs both the spinal cord stimulator trial and implant in order to provide the best continuity of care.
Placement of the spinal cord stimulator (SCS) is a minimally invasive surgical procedure, so anesthesia is used to minimize your discomfort.
Dr. Whitten begins by inserting the leads into your spine in the location that’s best for addressing your pain. Then he surgically implants the generator device that stimulates the electrical charge. It may be placed in your abdomen, buttocks, or upper chest. After the leads are attached to the generator and working properly, he closes your incision.
To allow for healing, Dr. Whitten may recommend limiting certain types of activity for up to three weeks following placement of your SCS.
After he places the spinal cord stimulator, Dr. Whitten has you come in for regular follow-ups so he can adjust the electrical signal to provide optimal pain relief. The SCS is a reversible therapy, so it can be removed at some point in the future if you and Dr. Whitten decide it’s best to discontinue it.