Pain is an important signal that your body sends your brain after you’ve been injured. If you don’t feel pain, you might not take your hand off a hot stove. Or, you might walk on a broken leg, making your injury worse.
But when pain persists far past the time of the original trauma or is associated with an ongoing health condition, it becomes a problem in itself. Instead of signaling to your body that you need to tend to your wounds and heal, chronic pain keeps your brain and nerves in a constant state of alert that wears you down mentally and physically. Chronic pain lowers your quality of life and may make it difficult to get through even the simplest tasks.
Our board-certified pain management specialist, Louis J. Raso, MD, PA, treats both acute and chronic pain conditions at his office in Jupiter, Florida. If you’re among the more than 20% of women and men in the United States with chronic pain but haven’t found pain relief from other treatments, he may recommend spinal cord stimulation (SCS). This novel procedure reduces most pain without long-term drug use or more invasive surgeries.
Chronic pain is pain that lasts for at least three months. The pain may have started because you were injured, had surgery, or have cancer. Sometimes, however, you don’t know what’s causing the pain or why it began.
The effects of chronic pain can extend beyond your injury or even your body. Chronic pain often leads to:
When you suffer from chronic pain, every aspect of your life can be affected, including your relationships, your work, and your sense of self.
Spinal cord stimulation is a treatment that uses electrical pulses to block pain signals from reaching your brain. If your brain doesn’t get the pain signals, you don’t feel pain.
Spinal cord stimulation is particularly helpful for pain that originates in the nerves, such as neuropathy and sciatica. Dr. Raso recommends SCS if:
The SCS treatment consists of two phases: In phase one, Dr. Raso fits you with an SCS device, but doesn’t surgically implant it. If your pain’s relieved by SCS, he then moves on to phase two and surgically places the SCS device.
The SCS device consists of a battery-powered pulse generator and electrical wires that run from the generator to your spinal cord. During phase one, you wear the generator outside your body, on a belt you attach around your waist. Dr. Raso places the wires on the spinal column, near the nerves that must be blocked.
Dr. Raso regulates the intensity of the pulses, depending on your needs. You can choose from a device that emits a soothing sensation called paresthesia, or one that delivers a pulse you can’t feel.
If your pain is reduced by half or stopped after one week with SCS, then Dr. Raso recommends proceeding to phase two. We let you know what you need to do to prepare for your surgery.
During your SCS surgery, Dr. Raso makes one or more incisions near your spinal column, and places the electrodes. He then threads the wires through our body to the level of your waist. He makes an incision near the side of your waist, places the generator, and attaches the electrodes.
After Dr. Raso tests your device to be sure it works, he closes the incisions. He then uses a remote control to make adjustments to the pulse rate, as needed. You come back for follow-up appointments to be sure your SCS is working properly and that your pain is controlled.
Some SCS batteries must be recharged every few days, but can last for up to 15 years. Batteries that don’t need recharging must be replaced every 3-5 years.
Find out if spinal cord stimulation can help your pain by calling us at 561-264-2929 or requesting an appointment online.