How the Latest Spinal Cord Stimulators Offer Drug-Free Relief From Chronic Back Pain

Millions of Americans experience persistent or chronic back pain that interferes with their ability to perform routine daily activities. When your back pain becomes chronic, it can be difficult to walk to the mailbox, do laundry, or load the dishwasher. Getting a restful night’s sleep can also become an impossible daydream when you have chronic back pain.

Brian Fuller, MD, is a spine and pain management expert who leads the team at Mountain Spine & Pain Specialists in Denver. Dr. Fuller understands the debilitating effects of chronic back pain. When physical therapy and other conservative treatments fail, he often urges his patients to consider the benefits of spinal cord stimulators for relief from their chronic back pain.

The basics of spinal cord stimulators

Spinal cord stimulators are small medical devices implanted just under the skin to help manage chronic back pain by blocking pain signals that travel along your nerves to your brain. If your brain doesn’t get the message that your back hurts, then you don’t feel pain.

These devices were approved by the FDA in 1989 and have offered relief for individuals experiencing chronic, debilitating back pain. The medical technology used for spinal cord stimulators has further advanced in recent years. These innovations have increased their effectiveness as a drug-free treatment option for chronic back pain.

The stimulator is implanted via a relatively minor procedure: Dr. Fuller creates a small pocket in your skin to hold the generator, and he places the electrode(s) in the proper position.

How it works

A spinal cord stimulator contains a thin wire (electrode) that’s placed over the spine and connected to a control unit (generator). The system delivers very mild electrical impulses (neurostimulators) that block the pain messages your nerves communicate to your brain. Because your brain doesn’t “hear” the pain complaints from affected nerves, it doesn’t recognize your discomfort.

How are today’s spinal stimulators more effective than previous models?

The advanced technology offered in the newest generation of spinal cord stimulators provides much more effective pain relief for many patients. Changes in design and electrical output have also significantly decreased and even eliminated irritating side effects.

These side effects were relatively mild but not well tolerated by some patients, such as a buzzing feeling when the electrical impulse discharges. If you’ve tried a stimulator in the past but were bothered by these side effects, it may be the right time to try one of the new models.

Give it a test run

You can expect to undergo a weeklong trial before Dr. Fuller surgically implants the stimulator. This gives you time to judge the device’s efficacy and allows Dr. Fuller to adjust the spinal cord stimulator as necessary.

For relief from your chronic back pain via the most innovative and effective treatments available, call Mountain Spine & Pain Physicians today or schedule an appointment using the online booking feature here on our website.

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