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Living with a Spinal Cord Stimulator

Living with a Spinal Cord Stimulator

Edward Carden, MD, is an interventional pain management specialist with a busy practice in Sherman Oaks, California. Dr. Carden takes a patient-first approach to pain relief and develops customized treatment strategies to improve your daily function, mobility, and overall quality of life.

Read why Dr. Carden may recommend spinal cord stimulation for chronic pain and what you can expect from this advanced pain management therapy.

What is a spinal cord stimulator?

A spinal cord stimulator (SCS) is a small medical device that uses mild electrical impulses to disrupt pain signals traveling along your spine to your brain. The SCS system includes a small wafer-sized pulse generator that delivers controlled bursts of electricity to electrodes implanted in the spine’s epidural space.

Stimulation levels are adjustable and can be customized to fit your pain needs during a two-week trial period, for which you wear the device externally. If you experience adequate pain relief during the trial, Dr. Carden implants the device during an outpatient procedure. He typically places the pulse generator in the lower back area, gaining access via a small incision site. 

Why would I need a spinal cord stimulator?

Dr. Carden may recommend SCS for:

When combined with other pain management therapies, such as anti-inflammatory medications, physical therapy, and relaxation, SCS can provide the boost you need to overcome the debilitating effects of chronic pain. 

Living with a spinal cord stimulator

Dr. Carden provides details regarding the care of your suture sites, activity modification, and other aftercare instructions before sending you home. You’ll also receive instructions regarding device maintenance, such as recharging or replacing batteries, which varies by model and brand. 

You may need to adjust the intensity of the electrical signal periodically using a remote-control device included with your SCS system. For instance, you may find that one setting works better for sitting while another offers improved pain relief when exercising. For easy access, you can usually save 2-3 frequently used settings, generally programmed during the trial period.

Because you may feel a tingling sensation with changing stimulation levels, Dr. Carden recommends turning the device off when driving to avoid distractions. It’s safe to have X-rays or CT scans with an SCS, but you should turn it off during the imaging study. Notably, MRIs are off-limits for individuals with an SCS.

Swimming will not harm the device. You may set off airport or security screening machines, but Dr. Carden can provide documentation that may allow you to skip machine screening. If not, turn off the device before passing through the gate. 

Although spinal cord stimulation isn’t a cure for the source of your chronic pain, you can expect improved mobility and quality of life as your discomfort lessens.

Schedule an evaluation with Dr. Carden today for more information about solving chronic pain with spinal cord stimulation. Call the office or request an appointment online.

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