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How Spinal Cord Stimulation Works to Manage Pain

Back pain is the leading cause of disability, and one of the most common causes of missed work. While many cases of back pain heal naturally, degenerative conditions and chronic injuries can lead to prolonged pain, stiffness, and limited mobility. If you’re struggling with back pain, you might be looking for treatments that don’t leave you under the influence of addictive medications. 

Advanced Pain Management serves the San Francisco Bay area with offices in Castro Valley, Ramon, and Fremont, California. Ravi Panjabi, MD, is a board-certified anesthesiologist and pain management physician who provides medical solutions for all kinds of chronic pain, including back pain. For those who want to avoid prescription pain relievers, spinal cord stimulation (SCS) can alleviate the pain using electrical signals. If your trial period delivers promising results, SCS can provide pain management without the risks and side effects of opioids. 

How SCS works

SCS systems consist of a small implanted pulse generator, called a stimulator, and thin implantable wires called leads. Once the leads are implanted, the stimulator delivers tiny pulses of mild electric current through the wires to target specific nerves on the spinal cord, and disrupt pain signals from traveling to the brain.

You’ll have an external remote control so you stay in control, and your system will have settings or programs designed specifically for your needs. When you have pain, you simply turn stimulation on and off, increase and decrease the level of stimulation, and target different pain areas in your body.

While SCS doesn't eliminate pain, it does change how your brain perceives it. You might notice a gentle fluttering sensation, or a tingling, or no sensation, but many pain signals won’t trigger your brain’s responses any more. In most cases, a 50-70% overall reduction in pain levels is the goal.

Who is a candidate for SCS?

Spinal cord stimulation is often recommended to those who have tried conservative methods, but don’t want to commit to surgery. Conditions treated by SCS include: 

The benefits of spinal cord stimulation

Along with pain relief, spinal cord stimulation can provide additional benefits, including: 

Struggling with chronic back pain? Looking for a solution? Spinal cord stimulation might be the treatment you’re looking for. To learn more and determine whether it’s right for you, talk to our team at Advanced Pain Management. You can schedule a consultation by calling our office most convenient to you or requesting an appointment online.