Spinal cord stimulation (SCS) is an FDA approved medical treatment for chronic back and neck pain. Chronic pain can occur as a result of an auto accident, a slip and fall, the failure of a product to work properly, or for myriad other reasons. Spinal cord stimulation is normally suggested after chiropractic care and other invasive therapies, such as steroid injections or back pain surgery, fail to provide relief.
An SCS surgery implants electrodes in the spinal canal. The electrodes are managed by a pulse generator that is normally put in the abdomen or buttocks. There are wires to connect the electrodes to the generator. The patient then uses an external controller to power the generator and adjust its strength. Typically, a pain management doctor will perform a trial to determine if the spinal cord stimulator helps. If the patient says the device helps, then a neurologist implants the SCS through a surgical procedure.
Advantages of spinal cord stimulators
SCS procedures are reversible. If there are complications, or if the spinal cord stimulator is not providing relief, the device can be removed. Other advantages are:
- Most insurances cover all or part of it
- It only requires a small incision
- It can reduce or end the need to take addictive pain killers, such as opioids
If it works, a spinal cord stimulator can greatly increase your ability to work, perform daily activities, spend time with family and friends, and enjoy life.
Disadvantages of spinal cord stimulators
There are no guarantees. The SCS device simply may not provide the desired relief for your spinal cord pain immediately. It also can fail over time as the body reacts to it. Devices work for some patients and not for others, even though their physical backgrounds may be similar. Some of the complications with SCS devices are:
- Every surgical procedure has a risk of infection and bleeding
- Spinal fluid leaks can cause headaches
- The generator battery may not work or may leak
- Scar tissue can form around the electrodes
- If you have an SCS, you cannot undergo an MRI
All surgery has inherent risks. Spinal cord surgery is last resort, not a first one.
At Gainsberg Law, P.C, our Chicago catastrophic injury lawyers understand how crushing and painful injuries from accidents can be. We work with experienced medical professionals to properly diagnose your condition, explain your prognosis, and provide the right treatments to maximize your health. For help with your accident case, please call us at 312.313.1621 or complete our contact form.