You’re not alone if you’re struggling with chronic back pain. The condition affects about 80% of all adults at some time in their lives. Chronic back pain is so prevalent that it ranks among the most common reasons that people visit a doctor and miss work.

Treatments for chronic back pain include therapies like pain medication, physical therapy, steroid injections, and spinal therapy. Patients who have tried these treatments and remain in pain may be eligible for spinal cord stimulation, an innovative therapy that can deliver relief.

Interventional pain management specialist and anesthesiologist Shoeb Mohiuddin, MD, of Regenerative Pain & Spine in Chicago, Illinois, specializes in using spinal cord stimulation and other innovative therapies to treat chronic back pain.

Whether your condition qualifies for spinal cord stimulation or another treatment, you will benefit from Dr. Mohiuddin’s professional expertise in determining the cause and appropriate treatment for your chronic back pain.

Chronic back pain involves symptoms that interfere with your daily activities for at least three months. The effect varies by individual, with pain ranging from dull and achy to intense and piercing. Chronic back pain can interfere with normal movement, working, and sleeping. The impact can result in struggles with depression, weight gain, and medication overuse.

Learn how spinal cord stimulation can help improve symptoms and restore normal movement for patients who qualify for this treatment.

How spinal cord stimulation works

Spinal cord stimulation can be effective for patients with chronic back pain that can’t be treated by removing the cause or repairing a deformity or injury.

Instead of drugs, the treatment uses implanted wires to interfere with the signals that damaged nerves send to your brain. When the path of pain signals is interrupted, your brain doesn’t receive them, and you don’t feel pain.

The process involves the use of a battery-powered generator that produces impulses, similar to a pacemaker. This device is attached under your skin near your buttocks or abdomen. The generator sends impulses to a stimulating wire or electrode that is placed in the epidural space in your spinal cord.

You control the intensity of electrical impulses with an external remote control device that communicates with the generator via an antenna. Some stimulators replace your pain with a mild tingling sensation, while others stimulate the spine without this feeling.

Appropriate uses for spinal cord stimulation

Spinal cord stimulation isn’t considered first-line therapy. Since this therapy requires the surgical implantation of medical devices in your body, it’s usually reserved for patients who have tried several other treatments without success. It is also used for patients who have chronic pain from failed back surgery.

If you choose to pursue spinal cord stimulation, you can expect to undergo extensive physical and mental health screening. This is necessary to confirm that you’ll be able to manage daily life with an implanted device.

Part of your screening involves a device trial of about one week before the components are surgically implanted. This helps to determine the results you can expect with spinal cord stimulation and whether it can make a difference in your pain.

During the trial, the wires are placed in your epidural space to align with the location of your pain. You wear the generator externally, on a belt around your waist.

If you achieve at least a 50% reduction in pain, your trial is considered successful. Your next step involves having the electrodes and generator permanently implanted in your body.

Expected outcomes with spinal cord stimulation

Managing chronic back pain with spinal cord stimulation can provide long-lasting relief. You can typically resume normal activities without anyone noticing the presence of the internal device. The results can improve your quality of life.

After your device is implanted, you must follow specific instructions to achieve optimal results. These directions address lifestyle guidelines, periodic evaluations, and the need to recharge your devices.

Most systems use a rechargeable pulse generator that allows for recharging through the skin. Some generators don’t need to be recharged but must be replaced at shorter intervals.

While spinal cord stimulation doesn’t involve drugs, it can be used in combination with other therapies or treatments, depending on your condition. While some patients can discontinue pain medication with spinal cord stimulation, others may still require it, though often in lower doses.

Find out more about spinal cord stimulation and how this technology may provide relief for your chronic back pain. Call one of our offices in the West Ridge area of Chicago today.

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