Category: Spine, Spine Pain | Author: Stefano Sinicropi | Date: April 20, 2015
We have briefly touched on neurostimulators before. Here we want to dig a little deeper and talk about the benefits and downsides of neurostimulator technology. In this article we will discuss the pros and cons of neurostimulators for treating spine conditions and injuries.
What is a Neurostimulator?
A neurostimulator is a small device that is surgically implanted into a patient’s body. The stimulator delivers electrical currents to the epidural space of the spine through similarly implanted wires. These electrical signals are meant to prevent pain signals from travelling to your brain. Instead of feeling pain, the patient feels a tingling sensation. The stimulator is programmed to send these electrical currents on a regularly scheduled basis. Neurostimulators are usually best suited for patients with conditions or injuries that cause chronic back pain.
Neurostimulator Pros vs. Cons
Neurostimulators offer numerous benefits, as well as a few potential risks. First, here are a few of the pros of neurostimulators:
- Many patients with chronic pain conditions report a significant reduction of pain.
- Though implanting the neurostimulator requires surgery, it is a less invasive procedure than other spine surgery procedures that make changes to the spinal discs or vertebra.
- The procedure is also reversible. If you do not experience sufficient pain relief, you can have the neurostimulator removed with a simple procedure.
On the flip side of the coin, here are a few potential downsides of neurostimulators:
- Effectiveness is not a guarantee. Some patients respond very well to neurostimulators, but others may not experience any pain relief at all.
- Implanting the stimulator requires surgery. Any surgery will carry risks of infection and other negative side effects. The stimulator itself may also cause pain.
- The stimulator device has the potential to malfunction, or move out of place.
As with any treatment option, it’s all a matter of weighing the pros against the cons. Consult with a skilled spine physician about your options and see what they recommend for your situation.