Spinal Cord Stimulator
Many problems in the body can cause pain. Pain is perceived and interpreted by the brain. Spinal cord stimulation, also called neurostimulation, relieves pain by blocking nerve signals for pain in the spinal cord before they can be perceived as pain by the brain.
Spinal cord stimulation can be an option to treat back pain that does not respond to pain medicine, physical therapy, or surgical procedures.
A spinal cord simulator is a surgically implanted device that sends a mild electrical signal to nerves along the spinal cord. Mild electrical stimulation modifies or blocks nerve activity to reduce the sensation of pain reaching the brain.
Spinal cord stimulation changes the signals sent to the brain in two ways:
- By reducing abnormal pain signals reaching the brain
- By restoring pain-inhibition pathways by stimulating the release of neurotransmitters that are used by nerves to communicate with each other
A trial spinal cord stimulator will be put in first to see if it reduces your pain. If the spinal cord stimulator can reduce your pain, you will be offered a permanent stimulator.
It is important to know that spinal cord stimulation may not work for all patients with all types of pain.
Spinal cord stimulation may be used to treat:
- Chronic back pain
- Back pain that doesn’t involve the arms or upper body
- Chronic leg pain
- Pain caused by inflammation and swelling of the tissues that cover the brain and spinal cord
You may be a good candidate for a spinal cord stimulator if you have back, spine, or leg pain that has not been relieved by surgery or other treatments, such as medicine or exercise.
Information and Resources
- Date of last review: July 26, 2017