Spinal cord stimulation uses a device that works like the pacemaker in the heart, to send electric signals to the pain regulating center in the central nervous system thus blocking the sensation of pain. The procedure of inserting the spinal cord stimulator is carried out by neurosurgeons with the help of the anesthetist.
Before the insertion of a permanent spinal cord stimulator, you will be put on a trial stimulation at the outpatient department in the hospital that you will have for less than a week and then go back to the doctor for evaluation. If the trial works for you and reduces more than half of your pain, you qualify to get surgery for spinal cord stimulation in The Woodlands.
How Do You Prepare For The Spinal Cord Stimulator Surgery?
When you visit the doctor to plan for the surgery, he or she will take your medical history which is significant to rule out conditions like if you are using anti-clotting medications or have had complications from previous anesthesia that can make your surgical outcomes to be undesirable. The doctor will then conduct a physical examination on you to rule out the presence of other underlying conditions that will affect your management like chronic heart, kidney, or liver disease.
The doctor will then order laboratory tests like a full hemogram to check for the number of blood cells which can tell whether you have underlying infections or clotting abnormalities. The doctor also orders imaging tests like X-rays to check on the structure of your spinal cord. You will be advised to take antithrombotic drugs like aspirin a few days before surgery to reduce the risk of excess bleeding during surgery.
Smoking delays healing by causing vasoconstriction and therefore you will be advised to quit smoking before the surgery. You should fast 6 hours before the procedure to reduce the risk of aspiration pneumonia when you are under general anesthesia. You should remove all accessories from your body before surgery and ensure that you inform the doctor about any drug that you may have taken and any allergies that you have.
What Should You Do During Recovery?
You should avoid strenuous activities for the first one and a half months after surgery to allow for healing and for the spinal cord stimulator to stay in position. You should gently wipe the surgical wound and ensure that it does not come into contact with water until it is completely healed. Avoid smoking because it will prolong the duration of healing.
Avoid consuming alcohol because it will increase the risk of bleeding after the procedure. Only take the medications that have been prescribed by your doctor for your pain. If you experience headaches, this can be due to the spinal fluid leaking on the wound, lie down, and increase the intake of beverages that contain caffeine but are not carbonated, like coffee.
Contact your doctor if there is bleeding from your wound, excess pain that will not go away with painkillers, redness, and heat around the incision site, headache, vomiting, or fever, and numbness. Complications from the procedure may include allergies to the device, paralysis, spinal headaches, or infections.
Who Is A Good Candidate For Spinal Cord Stimulation?
- When other pain treatment modalities have failed to work
- Someone with no other underlying medical conditions like chronic cardiac disease
- A non-smoker and one who is not addicted to other drugs
- One whose spinal cord trial was a success
- Someone who is not depressed
- If you do not qualify for surgery or do not want surgery.
Spinal cord stimulation is a method of pain relief by using an electric device to block pain signals coming from the brain. A good candidate is one whose other treatment for pain has not worked, a non-smoker or substance user, and a person who is generally healthy.