Spinal Cord Stimulation (SCS) is a safe and effective therapy that has been used for more than 40 years to help people take control of their chronic pain. To help you decide if SCS is right for you, it is important to understand what it is and how it works. The SCS System consists of implanted parts and external parts. There are two implanted parts: the Implantable Pulse Generator (IPG), which contains the advanced electronics and rechargeable battery, and the leads, which are the insulated wires that deliver the therapy. The external parts of the system include the cordless remote control, which allows you to adjust the therapy according to your needs, and the battery charger and charging station, for recharging the IPG.
How SCS Works
Pain is an electrical signal that travels along the spinal cord to the brain. Thin, insulated wires, called leads, deliver the electrical impulses from the IPG to specific locations on the spinal cord, masking the pain signals.
The masked signals then travel to the brain where they are often perceived or felt as a smooth, tingling sensation called paresthesia. This sensation reduces the feeling of pain.
Is SCS Therapy Right for You?
SCS may be an effective tool in reducing your chronic pain. However, it is important to understand that pain is unique to each individual. Not everything works the same for everyone. SCS is one of several therapies used to help control severe, ongoing neuropathic pain. Other options, which doctors usually try first, include physical therapy, different types of drugs, injections and sometimes surgery. Talk to your Pain Management Specialist to find out if the SCS System can help you take control of your pain.
SCS is generally considered successful if:
- Your pain is significantly reduced
- You are able to get back to your daily activities
- You are able to relax and sleep better
Potential Benefits of SCS
Some of the benefits of SCS therapy include:
- The ability to try the therapy before having a permanent system placed in your body. You can actually test drive (also known as a trial) the SCS System to see if it helps control your pain before committing to a permanent system.
- While many Level 3 therapies are permanent, even a permanent SCS procedure is reversible. This means that even though the device is surgically implanted, it can always be turned off or surgically removed by your doctor.
- While SCS does not use medications or drugs to block pain signals, it can be used in conjunction with your medications.
- SCS therapy may help control difficult pain in the low back and legs – even when other therapies have failed.
- SCS is covered by most health insurance plans, including Medicare.