Life comes to a screeching halt when you’re in pain. And in the case of neuropathy, searching for relief can be just as frustrating as the pain itself. Upwards of 20 million Americans have neuropathy, but some say that number is much higher because the condition can go undiagnosed as often as it goes untreated.
That’s why Dr. Raul Lopez and our team at West Texas Pain Institute in El Paso, Texas, leave no stone unturned. And if we discover that neuropathy is causing your pain, we consider every possible treatment, including spinal cord stimulation.
You may wonder how a spine treatment could help with the pain in your feet and muscles, but we have years of experience addressing widespread neuropathy simply by targeting the nerves in your spine.
Here’s a closer look at how it works.
What is neuropathy?
Neuropathy is nerve damage, specifically the peripheral nerves outside your central nervous system (your brain and spinal cord).
This damage often leads to weakness, numbness, and pain that affects your hands and feet. Depending on which nerves are damaged, it can also impact bodily functions like digestion, urination, and circulation.
Your peripheral nervous system serves as a communication pathway, sending information between your central nervous system and other body parts. It also relays sensory information back to the central nervous system.
Virtually anyone can get neuropathy from various health conditions, including traumatic injuries, infections, metabolic issues, genetic factors, and exposure to toxins. One of the most common causes is diabetes because uncontrolled high blood sugar damages nerve tissue.
You know the stabbing pain, burning, or tingling sensations if you have peripheral neuropathy. Peripheral neuropathy symptoms can often improve, particularly if the underlying cause is treatable.
When the underlying cause is untreatable, we turn to spinal cord stimulation.
How spinal cord stimulation stops neuropathic pain
Think of a spinal cord stimulator as a pacemaker for your nerves. It has two main components: the pulse generator we implant under your skin and wire leads near specific nerves along your spine. Together, they generate electric stimulation that interrupts and blocks pain signals.
In the past, the best way to find relief was with a prescription for pain medication, but that path carries the potential for addiction and sub-par results. Fortunately, spinal cord stimulation offers a more effective, safer, medication-free way to treat neuropathy.
The spinal cord stimulation process
There are two phases in the spinal cord stimulation process.
First is the trial phase, where we place a temporary wire near the affected nerves in your spine. The wire leads to a small battery-operated generator outside your body. During this period, Dr. Lopez monitors your response to the stimulation to ensure it works well for you.
We begin the permanent implantation phase if the stimulation relieves your pain and symptoms by at least 50%. We swap your temporary wires and auxiliary generator for permanent devices that remain implanted under your skin, typically in your lower back or upper buttock. You control your pain relief with an external wireless remote device.
Don’t spend another day hoping for pain relief to show up. Talk to Dr. Lopez about your symptoms, and find a treatment plan that will work for you. When you’re ready, schedule an appointment with our team online or over the phone.