Have You Tried Spinal Cord Stimulation for Neuropathy?

Peripheral neuropathy, occurs as a result of damage to nerves outside the brain and spinal cord (peripheral nerves). Since the peripheral nerves carry messages to and from the brain and spinal cord, damage to these nerves interrupts normal communication between the brain and other areas of your body. 

While diabetes is the most common cause of neuropathy, it can also occur as a result of injuries, infections, medications, or other conditions. With so many possible causes, neuropathy is relatively common and affects about 20 million people in the United States.  

Neuropathy can interfere with normal muscle movement, create problems with sensation, or cause pain in your extremities. Your symptoms depend on the type of nerves -- motor, sensory, or autonomic -- that are affected and the severity of the damage. While the condition can be debilitating, innovative treatments such as spinal cord stimulation can reduce pain and improve your quality of life when more conservative therapies like physical therapy and lifestyle modifications fail. 

Triple board-certified anesthesiologist and pain management expert Mervet Saleh, MD, here at Ohio Institute for Comprehensive Pain Management in Centerville, Ohio, specializes in using spinal cord stimulation and other innovative therapies to treat neuropathy. If you qualify for treatment with spinal cord stimulation, you’ll benefit from Dr. Saleh’s expertise in administering this therapy. She shares more about this treatment and how it works to change the lives of patients with neuropathy. 

What is spinal cord stimulation?

Spinal cord stimulation uses wires and a generator to disrupt the signals that damaged nerves transmit to your brain so your brain doesn’t receive them -- and that means you don’t feel the pain. The therapy is delivered by an implanted device that delivers a safe electrical current to your spinal cord. 

The equipment consists of a stimulating wire or electrode connected to a control unit or generator. The electrodes are surgically inserted between your spinal cord and your vertebrae, in an area called the epidural space, while the generator is attached under your skin near your abdomen or buttocks. 

When the stimulating electrode is placed over the spinal cord and turned on, the electrical pulses interfere with the pain signals and prevent them from traveling up your spine to your brain. You manage the electrical impulses with an external remote control device that’s connected to the stimulator with an antenna. The stimulator replaces your pain with a mild tingling sensation, though some devices offer stimulation without this feeling.

Is spinal cord stimulation right for me?

Since the device is implanted in your body, spinal cord stimulation requires serious consideration before you’re eligible to receive it. Spinal cord stimulation is usually reserved for patients who have tried nonsurgical treatment without success. Typically, you have to undergo mental health counseling to determine that you can manage an implanted device in your daily life. 

Before you move forward with spinal cord stimulation, you have a one-week trial in which one or two wires are placed in your epidural space in a position that aligns with the location of your pain. You wear the generator outside your body on a belt around your waist during the trial. Spinal cord stimulation is considered successful if it can remove at least half of your neuropathy pain. 

If your trial is unsuccessful, the wires are removed without damage to your nerves or spinal cord. If your trial is successful, you undergo surgery in which the device is permanently implanted in your body. After implantation, you receive lifestyle guidelines and periodic monitoring to ensure that you achieve the best possible results from this treatment. 

Spinal cord stimulation can provide life-changing relief to patients experiencing chronic pain from neuropathy. Find out if it could make a difference for you. Schedule an appointment online or call our office to arrange a consultation.

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