What’s a Spinal Cord Stimulation?

Spinal cord stimulation (SCS) is a medical procedure that involves using a device to deliver electrical impulses to the spinal cord, to reduce chronic pain. It is often considered for individuals who have not found adequate relief from other pain management approaches and suffer from chronic back or limb pain. SCS aims to modify the perception of pain by interfering with the pain signals before they reach the brain.


During a spinal cord stimulation procedure:

  1. Trial Period: Before a permanent SCS device is implanted, a trial period is often conducted. During this trial, temporary electrode leads are placed near the spinal cord, and the patient uses an external stimulator to assess the effectiveness of the treatment.
  2. Permanent Implantation: If the trial is successful, a permanent SCS device is implanted. This involves placing thin electrode leads in the epidural space near the spinal cord. The leads are connected to a small battery-powered generator implanted under the skin, typically in the buttock or abdomen.

Mechanism of Action:

Spinal cord stimulation works by delivering electrical impulses to the spinal cord, which interfere with the transmission of pain signals to the brain. The electrical stimulation can help override or mask the perception of pain, providing relief to the patient.


Spinal cord stimulation is considered for individuals who experience chronic pain that has not responded to other treatments, such as:

  • Failed Back Surgery Syndrome: Persistent pain after spine surgery.
  • Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS): A chronic pain condition affecting limbs.
  • Peripheral Neuropathy: Nerve damage resulting in chronic pain.
  • Ischemic Limb Pain: Pain due to reduced blood flow to the limbs.
  • Chronic Intractable Pain: Severe, persistent pain from various causes.


  • Pain Relief: Many patients experience significant reduction in pain levels and improved quality of life.
  • Non-Invasive Alternative: SCS provides a non-invasive option for pain relief, often avoiding the need for major surgeries.
  • Adjustable: The level and pattern of stimulation can be adjusted to meet the patient’s changing pain patterns and preferences.


  • Trial Period: The trial period helps determine if the patient will benefit from the permanent implant.
  • Response Varies: Not all patients experience the same level of pain relief from SCS.
  • Screening: Patients are carefully screened to ensure that they are appropriate candidates for SCS.
  • Risk of Complications: As with any medical procedure, there are potential risks and complications associated with the implantation of the device.

If you’re considering spinal cord stimulation for pain management, it’s important to consult with a healthcare provider who specializes in pain management. They can assess your condition, discuss potential benefits and risks, and help you determine if spinal cord stimulation is a suitable treatment option for your specific pain condition.






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