Genesis Logo

How Does a Spinal Cord Stimulator Trial Work?

Nov 03, 2023
misc image
If you suffer from chronic pain, and traditional forms of treatment don’t seem to work, you might benefit from a spinal cord stimulator. We discuss the inner workings of this cutting-edge technology here.

Everyone experiences pain at some point in their lives, and it can occur for literally many reasons, from injuries to diseases to disorders. When dealing with pain, you do what you can to relieve that pain until it goes away — unless it’s chronic pain, meaning it lasts for months or even years. 

If conservative treatments, such as injections and physical therapy, aren’t helping as much as you’d like, or you’re trying to avoid the addictive nature of pain medications, you might be wondering what other pain management solutions are out there.

At Genesis Pain and Regenerative Medicine in Colleyville, Texas, Don Enty, MD, and the rest of our team are experts in pain management, and we offer spinal cord stimulators as a way to offer you permanent pain relief. This blog reviews how they work and what you should expect from using them.

What is a spinal cord stimulator?

Spinal cord stimulators are a relatively new method of chronic pain management. About 50,000 of them are implanted each year, but that number is projected to continue growing as their popularity increases. 

When you experience trauma and tissue damage, your nerves send pain signals from the site to your brain through your spinal cord. Sometimes, these signals continue long after the tissue has healed. A spinal cord stimulator places electrodes connected to a generator in your spine that deliver bursts of electricity to block those pain signals from reaching your brain. 

It’s important to understand that a spinal cord stimulator isn’t a first line of treatment. Our team won’t recommend one for you unless other methods, such as physical therapy or injections, have proven unsuccessful. 

How the spinal cord stimulator implantation process works

When you receive a spinal cord stimulator, you must go through two phases: the trial period and the implantation surgery.

Trial period

During a spinal cord stimulator trial, only one or two wires are placed inside your spine while the generator is left outside your body. We provide you with a belt to hold the generator for the duration of the trial portion. The trial lasts about one week, and if at least 50% of your pain is reduced during that week, you can continue to the next phase.

Because only one or two wires are placed, and the generator is left outside your body, if the trial is unsuccessful, it makes removing the wires and electrodes much easier.

Implantation surgery

If you have a successful spinal cord stimulator trial, the device can be implanted permanently. All the wires and electrodes are placed in one portion of your spine, and the generator goes in another. Once everything is working properly, we close up the surgical sites.

The whole surgical procedure should take just under two hours.

If you’ve been struggling with chronic pain and there just doesn’t seem to be any relief in sight, you might be a good candidate for a spinal cord stimulator. Contact our team to set up a consultation by giving us a call at 817-482-0188 or by using our online scheduler today.