How a Spinal Cord Stimulator Trial Works

How a Spinal Cord Stimulator Trial Works

There’s a reason department stores have fitting rooms — everyone wants to try before they buy. Why can’t it be the same with pain management?

With spinal cord stimulation, it is. We know how important it is to feel confident in your treatments before you commit to them. Here, our team of pain management specialists at West Texas Pain Institute led by Dr. Raul Lopez gives you a sneak peek into how the trial phase of spinal cord stimulation works. 

What is spinal cord stimulation used for?

We recommend spinal cord stimulation for a wide range of pain conditions, especially those that haven’t responded to traditional treatments. 

Some of the pain conditions that respond best to spinal cord stimulation include:

It may also be an option for you if you suffer from inflammatory conditions or neurological dysfunction, such as complex regional pain syndrome and fibromyalgia.

We conduct a series of comprehensive exams and tests to determine if spinal cord stimulation is right for you. 

A closer look at the trial phase

If we believe that spinal cord stimulation can benefit you, the first step is the trial phase. During the trial phase, we place temporary wires into your spine. We use a special type of X-ray called fluoroscopy to guide the needle to the treatment area.

The wires lead to a small battery-operated generator that remains outside of your body, typically on a belt you wear around your waist. 

The process to place the temporary stimulator is minimally invasive and only requires one incision in your lower back. 

You have the temporary stimulator for about a week, which gives us plenty of data on how well you respond. If your pain improves by 50% or more, we consider the trial a success and make plans to place a permanent stimulator. We also fine-tune the settings so you get the most out of the treatment. 

If it’s not successful, we simply remove the wires without damage to your spinal cord or nerves and begin discussing your other options for pain relief. 

The permanent phase

Implanting the permanent stimulator is similar to the trial phase. The process is still minimally invasive, but it does require a few more steps. 

For instance, we surgically anchor the wires to minimize movement and place the generator under your skin. To do this, we have to make an incision along your lower abdomen or buttocks to place the generator and another along your spine to anchor the wires.

You can expect the permanent implantation process to take around 1-2 hours, and we may administer a sedative to keep you comfortable as we work. 

If you’d like more information about whether or not spinal cord stimulation is right for you, don’t wait. Call our friendly staff at 915-229-5013 or use our online booking tool to schedule an appointment at our El Paso, Texas, office today. 

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