You’ve read the research and heard the success stories — you had high hopes for spinal cord stimulation. If you’re like most, you turned to spinal cord stimulation as a last resort before facing the potential of surgery.
So, it begs the question, why isn’t it working for you, and what are you supposed to do now?
We know how frustrating it can be when what seems like a guarantee disappoints you. But Dr. Raul Lopez and our West Texas Pain Institute team don’t give up easily.
In this blog, we walk you through why your spinal cord stimulation trial may not have succeeded and your next pain relief steps.
Reasons why your trial didn’t go as planned
Spinal cord stimulation trials have a typically high success rate. One study determined that 9 out of 10 patients experienced at least 50% improvement in their pain at the 30-day mark, especially in those with predominantly lower back pain.
With numbers like those, it’s hard to imagine not responding positively to spinal cord stimulation. Unfortunately, there’s no clear-cut answer as to why you didn’t experience pain relief and others did.
Researchers who examine failed spinal cord stimulation often point to the complexities of chronic pain. Every patient with persistent pain is unique, and it often takes a combination of treatments to resolve the problem — spinal cord stimulation may not address your type of pain.
Some who pass the trial phase experience spinal cord stimulation syndrome, feeling less and less relief over time or noticing a loss of pain coverage.
Where do I go from here?
Back pain is frustrating at best and debilitating at worst. When yet another treatment fails to deliver on its promises, it’s understandable if you want to throw in the towel.
Spinal cord stimulation is an effective treatment for chronic back pain that stems from inflammatory conditions and neurological dysfunction, including:
- Complex regional pain syndrome
- Post-surgical pain
If spinal cord stimulation is ineffective, it’s often back to square one to attempt to find relief with other conservative treatments — even if the relief is only a temporary measure until you find the perfect solution.
Regenerative medicine includes platelet-rich plasma (PRP) therapy and stem cell therapy. Both harness the power of naturally occurring growth and healing factors to stimulate cell turnover in your body’s painful, damaged areas.
Instead of stimulating your nerves to block pain signals, we may recommend shutting off the nerve completely with radiofrequency ablation. This minimally invasive procedure uses radiofrequency waves to heat and neutralize malfunctioning nerves to keep you from feeling pain.
They aren’t just for pregnant women in labor — epidural injections effectively reduce swelling and relieve back pain from sciatica and postsurgical pain.
Many of our patients have also benefited from regular massage and physical therapy to strengthen muscles and connective tissues and stimulate circulation and healing. Hot and cold therapy is another simple but effective strategy to relieve back pain.
We believe there’s a connection between your overall health and pain. For that reason, we work to help you establish healthy habits that can keep your back pain in check. Depending on your needs, that may include:
- Dietary adjustments
- Mental health counseling
- Smoking cessation
- Exercise guidance
Don’t let failed spinal cord stimulation keep you from getting the relief you need and deserve. Dr. Lopez and our team are here to guide you through your pain relief journey and help you find what works best.
If you’re struggling with back pain, don’t hesitate to call our friendly staff or use our online booking tool to schedule an appointment at our El Paso, Texas, office today.