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Spinal Cord Stimulators Offer Drug-Free Relief for Chronic Back Pain

July 01, 2021 | Back Pain

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Back pain impacts virtually every facet of your life, including your mental and emotional health. And if you’re one of the 16 million adults who live with chronic back pain, the toll on your wellbeing can be severe.

When you turn to your primary care physician or a specialist for help, you likely walk out of their office with a prescription for a medication you can barely pronounce let alone know how it’ll affect your overall health.

Dr. Neel Amin, our pain management specialist, wants to be a part of the solution instead of contributing to the problem. He offers drug-free alternatives for pain management, including spinal cord stimulation, to help you find relief from your back pain without sacrificing other areas of your health and wellness.

Here’s everything you should know about spinal cord stimulation and how you can avoid taking prescriptions to manage your pain.

Reasons to avoid opioids and other prescriptions

For nearly two decades, the healthcare industry has seen a significant increase in the number of opioids and other pain medications prescribed for pain — as well as a rise in complications directly associated with them. An estimated 10.1 million people aged 12 and older abused opioids and another 9.7 million abused prescription pain relievers.

Not only are opioids and other prescription painkillers extremely addictive and easy to misuse, they often don’t address your pain, and they can even make it worse. These medications also come with a long list of potential side effects, including, but not limited to:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Confusion
  • Fatigue
  • Dizzy spells
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Hot flashes
  • Compromised immune system
  • Lower sex drive
  • Irregular periods

Some people taking opioids experience slowed breathing that can be fatal. Fortunately, there are treatment options like spinal cord stimulation that can effectively and safely address your pain.

A closer look at spinal cord stimulation

Spinal cord stimulation involves sending electrical impulses into your spine that target specific muscle and nerve groups and regulate how your brain senses pain. We perform a minimally invasive surgery to implant a small, pacemaker-like battery pack below the skin near your buttocks, lower back, or abdomen.

The battery pack is connected to a series of thin wires that we place carefully in the epidural space of your spine, which is the area between your spinal cord and vertebrae. The electrical impulses replace your pain with a light tingling sensation, but there are newer models that offer sub-perception stimulation that you can’t feel.

We implant the spinal cord stimulator in two phases: a trial phase and a permanent phase. During the trial phase, we implant a temporary device connected to a battery pack that is outside of your body. Dr. Neel Amin assesses your progress for approximately a week to make sure that it’s an effective treatment.

We move to the permanent phase if you exhibit the following:

  • At least 50% reduction in pain
  • Return to normal activity
  • Reduced or eliminated need for medication
  • Improved relaxation and sleep

The permanent spinal cord stimulator implantation process typically takes 1-2 hours and is done as an outpatient procedure. You have total control over your device through a remote, and you can activate the electrical impulses whenever you feel pain.

The first few days after your surgery, you may notice some discomfort at the surgical site. We recommend that you refrain from any strenuous movements, such as twisting, stretching, and reaching. Your incision site should heal within 2-4 weeks of your surgery.

Then, Dr. Neel Amin advises you on how to best return to normal activity. We typically recommend that you engage in only light activity for two weeks following your surgery. After that, you can return to your full routine.

Want to learn more about spinal cord stimulation or see if it’s right for you? Request an appointment online or over the phone at our East Fort Lauderdale, Florida, office today.