How Spinal Cord Stimulation Works
Sometimes conventional treatment for chronic pain doesn’t work. Sometimes surgery fail to solve the problem. Sometimes the type of injury or a person’s health make interventional treatments less effective.
When these situations occur, the experts at Physician Partners of America may recommend a spinal cord stimulator: a device designed to relieve discomfort and improve pain management by targeting pain at the nerve sites. If you have struggled with failed back surgery syndrome, or you would like to learn more about spinal cord stimulators, contact our team today.
How Does Spinal Cord Stimulation Work?
Pain itself is not so much a condition as it is a message. Nerves send messages to the brain that something is damaged and needs to change, and the brain interprets those messages as pain. If you can interrupt the messages, you can then reduce the pain.
Spinal cord stimulators are small electronic devices that are implanted into the spine using a minimally invasive procedure. Wires from the device are placed carefully around the spinal cord. The stimulator then sends small, mild electrical currents through the wires to stimulate the spinal cord nerve fibers, interrupting the messages before they have a chance to convert into pain sensations.
It is primarily used on patients that:
• Identified the medical cause of their pain.
• Tried previous pain reduction interventions without success.
• May not be good candidates for (additional) surgery.
Patients manage the level of pain control with a handheld device.
Spinal cord stimulation may not completely eliminate severe pain; but by interrupting the pain messengers, it is possible to reduce pain by as much as 50 to 70%. This makes it easier to manage that discomfort in your day to day life.
Find Out if You’re a Candidate – Contact the Physician Partners of America Today
Spinal cord stimulation is one of many successful pain reduction strategies that we use at Physician Partners of America. Our pain specialists are available to diagnose and treat pain in any form, and can determine if spinal cord stimulation is right for you.
If you’re experiencing pain and want to learn more about our proven treatments, please call us today at PHONE to schedule a consultation.
Spinal Cord Stimulator Complications
Spinal cord stimulators are devices used to reduce pain for patients who have chronic pain that has not responded well to treatment. These devices interrupt the messengers that deliver pain signals to the brain, and essentially replaces them with a mild tingling sensation. This allows those with chronic pain to lead a more active, discomfort-free life.
Spinal cord stimulators are also considered a safe alternative to repeat surgery and other invasive methods. Implanting a spinal cord stimulator is a safe and relatively simple procedure. For many, these devices they represent an effective tool for the management of their daily pain.
Associated Risks of Spinal Cord Stimulator
These devices are placed along the spinal cord using minimally invasive procedure, which involves far less risk than traditional open-back surgery. Still, all surgical procedures carry some risks. The following are some of the complications that may occur during or after spinal cord stimulator procedures.
- Spinal Fluid Leakage
These complications are present with all forms of minimally invasive spinal procedures. Serious physical complications like spinal fluid leakage and paralysis are exceedingly rare, especially when placed in the hands of experienced, board certified pain doctors.
There are also some uncommon complications related to the stimulator itself. These include:
- Allergic reaction to stimulator
- Stimulator stops working consistently
- Stimulator system has a poor connection
- Stimulator lead wire moves or is damaged
- Stimulation occurs in the wrong place
Many of these complications are easy to fix with a few small changes to the stimulator’s placement. It is also important to note that spinal cord stimulator implantations are reversible. At any point, you can remove it without long term risks.
Complications involving the stimulator hardware, like problems with the lead or a poor system connection, are more common than complications related to surgical error. Replacing the hardware is often enough to fix the issue.
Safe and Effective Pain Management with a Spinal Cord Stimulator in Pinellas
Spinal cord stimulator implantation is a minimally invasive, outpatient, reversible procedure. Though it does carry some risks, a spinal cord stimulator and its implantation is a relatively low-risk treatment compared to other medical interventions, especially those associated with chronic pain.
If you’re interested in finding out more information about spinal cord stimulators, and whether you’re a candidate for one, contact us today. For those who have unsuccessfully tried other methods of addressing their chronic pain, a spinal cord stimulator could be the answer.
Next Steps for Recovery
Take an active role in your recovery by staying on track with follow-up appointments, medications, and post-surgical hygiene instructions. This will minimize your chances of developing an infection or suffering from other negative effects and improve your outcome. If you’d like to learn more about spinal cord stimulator implant recovery, contact our team of pain doctors today for an appointment.
How Much Do Spinal Cord Stimulators Cost?
The cost for both the spinal cord stimulator and the procedure depends on many factors, such as the type of stimulator (some are rechargeable, others are not), the location of the office, the health of the patient, and the needs for your recovery.
The factor that may play the most critical role is likely to be insurance. Luckily, most private insurance companies – as well as both Medicare and TriCare – cover this procedure for patients that qualify. Out of pocket costs may still exist, but they are often manageable, and some physicians do offer financial support plans for select patients.
The best way to provide you with a spinal cord stimulator cost estimate is to provide you with a benefits check. This will allow our doctors and staff to review your coverage and provide you with a more accurate assessment of the out of pocket costs. If you do not have insurance, we’ll discuss available options and provide you a quote for these medical services.
Call us today at PHONE to get started.
Spinal Cord Stimulator Implant Recovery
The spinal cord stimulator implant procedure is minimally invasive and has a low risk of complications. That means that healing time tends to be swift with this type of procedure compared to other surgical treatments. Yet it is still a form of surgery, and that often means that there are some tips and techniques that should be considered as you begin to adjust to life with less pain.
Spinal Cord Stimulator Costs
Spinal cord stimulators are a beneficial tool for those who need help managing their chronic pain. They are most often advised for those that have tried other methods to reduce their pain without success.
When considering this type of procedure, it’s not uncommon to find yourself concerned about costs. After all, it may not be your first chronic pain expense, and those fees and prices do add up. The cost for a spinal cord stimulator implant procedure varies, depending on your individual needs, the type of stimulator, and any specific demographic/physical requirements that may affect the procedure.
What is a Spinal Cord Stimulator?
Spinal cord stimulators are pacemaker-like devices, implanted under the skin, that electrically interfere with pain signals to the brain. The procedure is minimally invasive, which tends to reduce costs to the patient. These stimulators do not block the pain sensation entirely, but they do reduce the amount of pain the patient experiences. The ideal patient for a spinal cord stimulator is someone who:
- Struggles with chronic back, leg, or arm pain
- Has attempted more conservative physical or medication therapies without success.
- Has had spinal surgery and/or does not want additional surgery
Generally, a successful outcome for a spinal cord stimulator implant patient is one in which the patient experiences a 50%-70% decrease in pain. Most patients report that their stimulator creates a tingling sensation that different individuals say feels pleasant or manageable, and should you feel as though the stimulator sensations are unmanageable, the device can be removed safely without damaging the nerves or spinal cord.
Recovery Time and Care
Usually, the most important part of the recovery process from a spinal cord stimulator implant surgery occurs in the first one to two weeks, but this can vary depending on the patient. During the recovery, the pain doctors at Physician Partners of America will first provide you with a list of activities to avoid. These are actions that are best avoided for the first few weeks while you are healing from the procedure, including:
- Lifting objects heavier than five pounds.
- Athletic activities or roughhousing that could move the device before you heal.
- Sudden jerking motions, including twisting and bending.
- Extended periods of sitting and immobility that puts pressure on the spine.
- Lifting your arms above your head.
Your doctor may also ask you to take sponge baths instead of a regular bath or shower for at least the first few days after the surgery to allow the incision areas to heal. Driving may be a restricted activity in the month or so after surgery, but talk to the doctors at Physician Partners of America if you have specific travel activities that are required for your work or home life.
You can encourage the healing process by maintaining healthy habits like eating a nutritious diet, getting plenty of sleep, and taking your medications and doctor’s instructions seriously. You should also be aware of what the signs of infection may be and get medical help quickly if you notice them. If you experience any of these symptoms, especially around the incision site, you should contact your doctor:
- Pain that remains or increases for over two weeks
- Excessive redness
- Excessive drainage
- Fever or chills
Other general risk factors after surgery can include signs of allergic reactions to the implant material or unexplained pain that occurs either gradually or all at once. Everyone is different, and your doctor will also be able to tell you if you should be aware of any particular risks you should keep an eye out for.
Complete recovery takes roughly 6 weeks to 2 months depending on health, age, and surgical placement.
How to Pay for Your Implant: Medicare
Most private insurance companies cover some or all of the costs of spinal cord stimulators. But for those that are on Medicare, it’s not uncommon to wonder if you will be covered.
Luckily, there is good news. Traditional Medicare does cover spinal cord stimulators, and the procedures to implant them in the body. Because the science behind spinal cord stimulators is sound, Medicare is willing and able to cover the procedure and its hardware for those that qualify.
Does ALL Medicare Cover Spinal Cord Stimulators?
Spinal cord stimulators are covered only when circumstances justify their use. They may not be covered if the patient has not yet undergone prior procedures, or if they are not considered a candidate because of substance abuse issues, ill health, or pain that is unlikely to be treated by the procedure.
Although most common forms of Medicare cover spinal cord stimulators, it is always a good idea to contact us, especially if you’re concerned that your specific plan may not offer payment.
Spinal Cord Stimulator for Back Pain
Back pain is easily one of the most common forms of chronic pain and discomfort. Caused by everything from age to injury to illness, back pain is frequently a source of distress for men and women of all ages.
Some back pain is manageable with a bit of medication, physical therapy, and some rest. But for others, the cause of the back pain may be something that requires a more intensive treatment.
A Device That Reduces Back Pain Without Surgery – Spinal Cord Stimulators
If you have back surgery that failed, or you would like to pursue options that allow you to avoid back surgery, one choice to consider is called a “spinal cord stimulator.”
Spinal cord stimulators are a type of technology that is implanted into the spine using a minimally invasive procedure. Wires wrap around a specific point in the spinal cord, and they are connected to a handheld device that the patient is able to control. These stimulators send gentle electrical impulses that disrupt the nerve’s pain messengers, so that they are unable to signal the brain to experience pain.
The result is a tingling sensation instead of pain, and a reduction in discomfort by as much as 70%. For those with back pain that was unable or is unable to be treated by surgery, spinal cord stimulators offer an effective alternative to additional back surgery so that patients with chronic back pain can still find some relief.
Alternatives to Back Surgery
Chronic back, neck, and leg pain often points to a problem in the spine. From herniated discs to degenerative disc disease to spinal stenosis, there are many conditions that affect the bones and tissues in the nerve and spinal cord, and these conditions can cause chronic – sometimes debilitating pain that requires an immediate treatment.
Often the choice recommended by physicians is surgery. That is because orthopedic surgery does have success when it comes to addressing the delicate needs of the spine. But it is also not the only option. There are alternatives to back surgery that you may want to consider before undergoing (another) procedure.
Spinal Cord Stimulators Work
The science behind spinal cord stimulators is clear. While it is one of many treatments available for chronic pain, it is one that is supposed by the medical community and thus covered by most common forms of Medicare to those that qualify. For more information about your specific insurance plan, contact Physician Partners of America, today.
How Chronic Back Pain is Traditionally Treated
When a person struggles with chronic back pain that has not responded well to lifestyle changes, medication, and exercise, many doctors start to look at surgery. There are many effective forms of back surgery available that can improve your chances of reducing or eliminating the source of that pain.
But while back surgery can be effective, there are a few issues:
- Not everyone is a candidate for back surgery.
- Not everyone wants back surgery.
- Not everyone experiences pain relief after back surgery.
That last one is especially problematic. Known as “Failed Back Surgery Syndrome,” studies have shown that many of those that undergo the different surgical procedures fail to experience a significant reduction in their pain in the long term. While back surgery is often effective, it is imperfect, and a sizeable percentage – some estimate as high as 20% – may not experience the best results.
Spinal Cord Stimulator Services from Physician Partners of America
Physician Partners of America is proud to be one of the premier providers of these spinal cord devices, provided by some of the leading pain specialists throughout the country. For patients that would like to learn more about this revolutionary new procedure, please contact us today to learn more.
Does Medicare Cover Spinal Cord Stimulators?
Living with chronic pain is physically challenging and emotionally draining. Modern medicine has come a long way towards treating most types of chronic pain ailments. But while these treatments can be effective, they are not 100% effective, and it is possible for a treatment to fail.
Spinal cord stimulators are considered a useful next step for patients that have exhausted other options or are not ready or able to go through a more invasive surgery. As a minimally invasive procedure, spinal cord stimulator implants are easier on the body and provide some much needed relief to those that qualify for it.
What Alternatives to Back Surgery Are There?
Often a doctor will not prescribe any treatment until the patient has tried the most conservative options available, such as pain medication and physical therapy. But even if those fail, there may be other alternatives to surgery that may be considered. These include:
- Epidural Steroid Injections – Using a long needle and state of the art technology, a physician may place an injection directly into the inflamed area. The injection contains a mix of steroids (to reduce inflammation) and anesthetic (to numb the pain) that provides some quick, long term relief. Future injections are often needed, although some patients claim the pain is permanently reduced.
- Spinal Cord Stimulator – One of the most exciting technologies is the spinal cord stimulator. These user-controlled devices have wires that wrap around the spinal cord and disrupt pain messengers, so that the patient experiences a tingling sensation instead of chronic pain. Pain reduction may be as much as 70% or more, and the devices are easy to use, easy to control, and reversable. Spinal cord stimulators are also great choices after failed back surgery.
- Radiofrequency Lesioning – Radiofrequency lesioning in a minimally invasive procedure that essentially “burns” the nerve roots using heat from needles. By burning the nerve roots, they become unable to send pain signals to the brain.
These are only some of the different alternatives to back surgery that are available for the right patients. There are also medial branch blocks, Botox injections, and several other procedures for different types of pain. While minimally invasive options like spinal cord stimulators are often the best choice, there are other options out there that should be considered on a case by case basis.
For more information about non-surgical treatments, or to schedule a consultation, call Physician Partners of America, today.
Best Treatment for Herniated Disc
The discs in the spine provide cushioning in between the bones, known as vertebrae. It is because of these discs that the spine is able to move and shift without the bones rubbing together and without creating stiffness and pain. But these discs are also fragile, and while they are well protected within the back, age and injury may cause the soft gel within the discs to squeeze loose.
When that happens, it is referred to as a herniated disc (also known as a slipped or ruptured disc). While some herniated discs cause no symptoms, others end up pushing on the nerves of the spine. When they do, it can cause moderate to severe pain.
How to Treat Sciatica and Best Treatment Available
Often, when a person struggles with chronic sciatica, it becomes important to seek treatment. Many of the causes of sciatica will not clear on their own. But the treatment you choose is going to depend on many factors, including your age, health, the type of injury, whether or not you have tried other treatments, and the risk/success rate associated with the procedure.
Some of the best treatments for sciatica include:
- Physical Therapy – One of the most conservative but effective treatments, physical therapy can strengthen the core and reduce or prevent spine related damage.
- Epidural Steroid Injections – With a mix of steroids and pain relief medication, epidural steroid injections are an effective way to reduce inflammation and prevent some or all pain.
- Spinal Cord Stimulator – This device is a great tool for when other treatments have failed. It is manually controlled and delivers electrical pulses to the nerves to disrupt pain messengers and reduce pain. Very effective and requires only a minimally invasive procedure.
- Intrathecal Pump – Another unique device, the intrathecal pump delivers low doses of medication directly into the spinal cord. It delivers pain relief with fewer side effects than oral medication because less dose is needed to experience benefits.
- Surgery – Finally, sciatica may respond well to surgery. Surgical options include discectomies (removal of discs), spinal fusion, and laminectomies. Other surgical options may be considered depending on the cause of the sciatic nerve pain.
Each one of these treatments merits consideration depending on the cause of your sciatica, the amount of pain, and your previous history with back pain treatments.
The only way to know which is the best treatment for you is to schedule a consultation with Physician Partners of America. Contact us today to get started.
Spinal Cord Stimulator
The cause of pain may be somewhere in the spine. But the sensation of pain comes from the brain. Spinal cord stimulators are a popular choice specifically for those with FBSS. Spinal cord stimulators are devices that are wrapped around the spinal cord to disrupt the nerves that send pain signals to the brain with a mild electrical pulse.
Spinal cord stimulators are also reversable, and provide relief from pain without an invasive surgery. They’re quickly becoming a popular treatment for FBSS patient.
How Herniated Disc is Treated – and the Best Options Available
Some herniated discs heal on their own. Others go for years without requiring treatment because the pain is manageable, or experience relief with some physical therapy sessions and rest. But for many, the slipped disc causes moderate to severe pain, and requires treatment in order to eliminate the constant pain.
With many treatments available, it is important to choose the one that makes the most sense for you – the one with the highest success rate. Some choices to consider include:
- Epidural Steroid Injections – One way to decrease pain is to receive an injection of a combination of steroids (to reduce inflammation) and slow acting pain relievers directly into the nerves. These injections can provide long term pain relief, although they may not cure the issue.
- Microdiscectomy – In some cases, herniated discs can be treated with a minimally invasive surgical procedure called a microdiscectomy. In a microdiscectomy, a piece of the bone near the nerve root is carefully removed to reduce pressure on the spinal column.
- Spinal Cord Stimulator – Another option, and one that is especially useful for those that have already tried surgical procedures, is to use a spinal cord stimulator. These devices are wired into a specific spot in the spine, and use mild electrical impulses to disrupt the pain messengers that are sent from the nerves to the brain. They are user controlled, removable, and replace pain with a mild tingling sensation while reducing discomfort by between 50 and 75%.
- Surgery – In some cases, a patient may require surgery. Surgery comes with many risks, but procedures such as laminotomies, spinal fusions, artificial discs surgery, and discectomies have been effective at relieving pain.
The decision to treat a herniated disc must be treated carefully, weighing the level of pain, the success of conservative treatments, and the severity of the injury. That is why it is so important to speak with one of our pain specialists here at Physician Partners of America. Technologies like spinal cord stimulators are exciting, but only a trained professional can determine the treatment that will have the most success.
Call Physician Partners of America today at PHONE to learn more.
How to Find the Right FBSS Treatment
Failed back surgery syndrome presents many challenges. There are many possible reasons that an otherwise successful surgery might have “failed,” especially when considering how many different types of surgeries there are and the different health issues associated with each individual. Examples of causes may include, but are not at all limited to:
- Problems with the hardware used to repair the spine.
- Misdiagnosis of the cause of spine pain.
- Secondary injury, such as added pressure on a different disc.
- Further degeneration or narrowing of the discs/spine, and more.
The cause of the pain plays a role in treatment determination, which is why it is so important not only to see a doctor, but to see one with specific failed back surgery syndrome expertise. Yet, with that in mind, there are some procedures that are there to help.
Best Treatment for Sciatica
Inside of the spine are a series of nerves that are responsible for delivering messages throughout the body. Injury to specific areas of the spine can damage or put pressure on the nerves, which in turn creates and sends pain signals to the brain.
Because the spine is responsible for signing pain signals from all areas of the body, it is possible for an injury to the spine to cause pain that radiates to areas outside the back. One of the most common is known as sciatic pain, also called “sciatica.” This is a type of leg pain that starts by damage to the back – due to age or injury – that puts pressure on the sciatic nerve leading to pain down the leg.
Many conditions can cause sciatica, including:
- Degenerative Disc Disease – An age-related spinal disease that weakens discs.
- Spinal Stenosis – Narrowing of the spinal canal.
- Herniated Disc – Damaged discs that put pressure on the nerves.
Other causes include pregnancy, piriformis syndrome, and bone fracture. But no matter what the cause, it originates at the spine.
Best Treatment for Failed Back Surgery Syndrome
Surgery is one of the most effective treatment methods for severe chronic pain in the back, neck, or legs. But despite its successes, this type of surgery also has an unfortunately high failure rate. Some estimates have found that as many as 22% of those that undergo treatment for back pain end up with recurring pain within the next 5 years.
When that pain recurs, it is referred to as “Failed Back Surgery Syndrome,” or “FBSS.” The term itself is a misnomer, as FBSS is not a syndrome but a blanket term for any surgery that was unsuccessful at curing spine-related pain. FBSS doesn’t necessarily mean that the surgery itself was unsuccessful either. But it does mean that some type of pain has come back that requires additional treatment.
However, it is also not uncommon for doctors to consider additional surgery when faced with FBSS. That is one of the reasons spinal cord stimulators are so popular, as they provide an alternative. Additional surgery can be effective at eliminating the cause of the pain, even though you had surgery before. But it takes a specialist with expertise in FBSS, along with the time available for a long recovery period and an acknowledgement of the risks.
Other Failed Back Surgery Syndrome Treatments
In addition, your pain specialist may also consider non-invasive and minimally invasive treatment options, including:
- Cognitive behavioral therapy
- Epidural steroid injections
- Physical therapy
- Scar tissue removal
- Pedicle screw repair, and more.
Because the cause of FBSS can be so varied, so too may the treatment recommendation. But with the right choice, your physician may be able to eliminate your pain and help solve your failed back surgery.
To learn more about the best treatment options for FBSS, make sure you call Physician Partners of America today.
How to Treat Arachnoiditis
One of the most unfortunate issues with arachnoiditis is that there is no known cure. Treatments for the condition revolve around finding strategies to manage the pain. Some of the best treatments include:
- Spinal Cord Stimulators – These are user-controlled devices that wrap around the spinal cord and use electrical impulses to disrupt pain sensations before they enter the brain. They are highly effective at reducing pain by as much as 70%, and it is a reversable procedure, so those that decide they want to pursue other treatments can do so safely and easily.
- Stem Cell Therapy – Currently stem cell therapy is experimental, and may not be an effective treatment, but research is still being conducted to see if perhaps stem cells can repair malfunctioning nerves and reduce pain.
- Intrathecal Pump – Intrathecal pumps allow the user to deliver low doses of pain medications directly into the spinal canal. This ensures that pain reduction hits the nerves that need it most, all with less of the medication needed for fewer side effects.
- Traditional Non-Invasive Back Pain Treatments – Your doctor may also recommend taking a more conservative approach, using steroid injections, physical therapy, and counseling. But it depends on the cause of the pain, as the physician may not want to risk further irritation.
These are the best available treatments right now for arachnoiditis. But scientists are also still looking for useful treatments and hope to potentially find a cure. Physician Partners of America remains in the pulse of arachnoiditis therapies and can provide you with the appropriate treatment for your pain. For more information, contact us today.
Best Treatment for Arachnoiditis Pain
Arachnoiditis is a rare complication of chronic pain treatments that causes its own pain and discomfort. The condition occurs when the contaminants enter the fluid that surrounds and protects the spinal column. This leads to inflammation that, in turn, causes a web-like network for nerves to fuse together.
The most common cause of arachnoiditis is an error on the part of a surgeon or pain specialist. If the dura get nicked by a needle or knife, germs and other contaminants may be able to enter the dura mater membrane. Arachnoiditis can lead to severe pain, including sciatic pain, along with a host of other conditions that disrupt a person’s life.