Spinal cord stimulator

Spinal Cord Stimulator: Essentials

Spinal Cord Stimulation (SCS) is a reversible, adjustable, and MRI-compatible therapy for chronic pain management, ideal for those who have not found relief through traditional treatments. It involves a two-phase procedure—trial and implantation—to ensure personalized pain relief. Patients can expect reduced pain, improved daily function, and possibly less reliance on medications, significantly enhancing quality of life.

Considering Spinal Cord Stimulation at Sydney Pain Clinic could be your next step towards managing chronic pain effectively. Contact us to learn more and book your consultation. Ready to explore how SCS can change your life?

What is Spinal Cord Stimulation?

Spinal Cord Stimulation (SCS) represents a forefront in advanced therapy for chronic pain management, integrating seamlessly into the multidisciplinary treatment approach championed by leading clinics like the Sydney Pain Clinic.

This innovative procedure is distinguished by its reversibility, removability, and the capability to be turned on or off, offering patients an unparalleled level of control over their treatment. Moreover, SCS devices are designed to be MRI compatible, ensuring that patients can undergo necessary imaging without interference. Through the delivery of mild electrical impulses to the spinal cord, SCS modulates pain signals before they reach the brain, providing a novel avenue for alleviating chronic pain where other treatments have fallen short.

Spinal Cord Stimulation

Ideal Candidates for Spinal Cord Stimulation

Spinal Cord Stimulation (SCS) is most effective for individuals who have tirelessly pursued conservative treatment options without significant relief. Ideal candidates typically include those who are not considered suitable for further surgical interventions. These include:

Patients who have experienced unsuccessful outcomes from previous surgical treatments, such as those suffering from failed back surgery syndrome, find SCS to be a viable alternative. Additionally, individuals diagnosed with complex regional pain syndrome, arachnoiditis, extensive nerve injury, or neuropathy, who have exhausted other treatment avenues, may benefit significantly from Spinal Cord Stimulation. 

The procedure offers hope and a potential improvement in quality of life for patients who thought their pain management options were limited.

Spinal Cord Stimulation Procedure

The Spinal Cord Stimulation (SCS) procedure is meticulously designed to ensure both safety and efficacy, conducted under sedation to minimise discomfort. The procedure encompasses two critical phases: the Trial Phase and the Implantation Phase, both integral to the personalisation of therapy for chronic pain management.

TRIAL PHASE: This initial phase serves as a decisive period to ascertain whether Spinal Cord Stimulation is the right choice for the patient. During this phase, a temporary device is placed to simulate the effect of the stimulator, allowing both the patient and the practitioner to evaluate its effectiveness in managing pain symptoms. This phase is crucial for ensuring that the patient experiences significant pain relief before moving forward with a permanent solution.

IMPLANTATION PHASE: Following a successful trial phase, where the patient reports substantial pain relief, the next step is the implantation of the permanent Spinal Cord Stimulator. This phase involves the careful placement of the stimulator leads near the spinal cord and the installation of a small generator under the skin, usually in the buttock or abdomen. The device’s settings are customised to target the patient’s specific pain areas, offering tailored pain management.

This procedural approach ensures that Spinal Cord Stimulation therapy is not only customised but also reversible, providing patients with a significant degree of control over their treatment and the flexibility to adjust or remove the system should their circumstances or needs change.

Spinal Cord Stimulation Therapy Recovery

The recovery process after Spinal Cord Stimulation (SCS) therapy is a critical component of the treatment journey, designed to ensure optimal outcomes and patient comfort. Post-procedure, patients are generally advised to take it easy for several weeks, allowing the body time to heal and adjust to the device. Key recovery milestones include:

  • Activity Restriction: Initially, patients are advised to limit physical activity, especially actions that involve twisting, bending, or lifting, to ensure the implanted device remains securely in place. This period allows the leads to scar in and stabilises the system.
  • Pain Management: Some discomfort or pain at the implantation site is common; however, this is typically manageable with prescribed medications or over-the-counter pain relievers, as recommended by the healthcare provider.
  • Follow-up Appointments: Regular check-ups are essential following the implantation. These appointments allow the healthcare provider to assess the healing process, make any necessary adjustments to the stimulator settings, and address any concerns the patient may have.

Recovery varies from person to person, but most patients can resume their normal daily activities within 4 to 6 weeks post-procedure, with specific guidelines tailored to each individual’s situation. The focus is on gradual recovery, ensuring the patient can return to a more active lifestyle with reduced pain.

Results from Your Spinal Cord Stimulator

The implementation of Spinal Cord Stimulation (SCS) has been rigorously evaluated for its efficacy in managing chronic pain and its cost-effectiveness as a healthcare investment. SCS offers transformative outcomes for chronic pain sufferers, balancing clinical efficacy with economic considerations:

  • Pain Severity Reduction: Over 50% reduction in pain for many patients.
  • Improved Physical Functioning: Enhanced ability to perform daily activities.
  • Medication Use Reduction: Decreased reliance on pain medications, especially opioids.
  • Long-Term Savings: SCS proves cost-effective between 2 and 2.5 years post-treatment by reducing ongoing healthcare costs.
  • Economic Evaluation: Studies highlight SCS’s value in conditions like failed back surgery syndrome and complex regional pain syndrome through lowered medication use and healthcare visits.

By integrating clinical outcomes with economic evaluations, Spinal Cord Stimulation presents itself as a valuable treatment for chronic pain, offering both significant improvements in patient well-being and a cost-effective solution for the healthcare system.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Spinal Cord Stimulators (SCS) are a leading-edge solution for those suffering from chronic pain and various other conditions, offering significant improvements in daily comfort and mobility. These devices are particularly beneficial for individuals who have not found relief from pain following successful spinal surgery. By targeting the pain at its source, SCS treatments aim to restore a sense of normalcy and enhance overall quality of life for patients grappling with neuropathic pain and other persistent conditions.

Your journey towards receiving a Spinal Cord Stimulator begins with a thorough evaluation by our team, including your physician and our dedicated SCS experts. This evaluation ensures that SCS therapy is the most suitable option for you, considering all available treatment avenues. Expect discussions about your medical history, current pain management strategies, and an exploration of alternative treatments before deciding on an SCS implant.

The implantation of an SCS device is a personalised procedure that varies based on your specific needs and the technology used. Typically, the placement of the SCS electrodes is performed under sedation to minimise discomfort. Our goal is to ensure a smooth and comfortable process for every patient.

Before proceeding with SCS therapy, it’s important to have a detailed conversation with your doctor. Inquire about the suitability of this treatment for your condition, any possible alternatives, and the pros and cons of undergoing SCS therapy. Understanding the doctor’s experience with SCS procedures and the expected outcomes is crucial for setting realistic expectations.

As with any medical procedure, there are considerations to be aware of, including general risks associated with implants and specific side effects related to the SCS device. We recommend discussing these potential side effects with your doctor and our SCS team in detail, to fully understand the risks and benefits.

The recovery period and time off work after SCS therapy can vary widely. Our team will provide tailored advice based on the specifics of your procedure and personal circumstances, ensuring you have the support needed for a smooth recovery.

The materials used in SCS devices are designed to be bio-compatible, making true rejection rare. The expectation is that the device will be a long-term solution to manage your condition, with removal possible if it becomes necessary.

Should any issues arise with your SCS device, our support team is on hand to diagnose and provide guidance on the appropriate steps to take, ensuring you continue to receive the benefits of your therapy.

SCS devices, like all medical devices, require periodic maintenance and potentially component replacement. Device regulation and adjustments are straightforward, often allowing you personal control over the settings for optimal pain management.

The battery life of SCS devices varies, with traditional non-rechargeable systems typically lasting between about seven years. Newer rechargeable models offer extended longevity, with most trusted manufacturers warranty for 5 years.

The content of this website is intended solely for general informational purposes. It should not be regarded as conclusive medical advice under any circumstances. We strongly advise consulting with top-tier pain management experts and medical professionals at Sydney Pain Clinic for any queries or concerns. A comprehensive assessment is essential for a precise diagnosis and treatment strategy. Remember to contact our pain management specialists and clinicians in Sydney to arrange a consultation.

18 Roslyn Street
Potts Point 2011 NSW

18 Roslyn Street
Potts Point 2011 NSW


18 Roslyn Street
Potts Point 2011 NSW