What is Spinal Cord Stimulation and is it Right for You?

Is your back stiff or sore? Are bending and lifting harder than they used to be? Do you find yourself missing work or social events due to discomfort? If this sounds familiar, you may be one of the millions of Americans suffering from chronic back pain.

With its intricate system of bones, muscles, ligaments, and joints, the back is susceptible to a wide variety of ailments resulting from accidents, injuries, bad posture, arthritis, and obesity, among others. Even seemingly unrelated medical conditions like kidney stones and blood clots can cause back pain.

Over-the-counter pain relievers and a heating pad often provide relief within a few weeks for men and women with short-term discomfort. Others, though, have ongoing pain and may need more in-depth care.

Dr. Mervet Saleh, a triple board-certified pain management expert and anesthesiologist, and her team at the Ohio Institute for Comprehensive Pain Management conduct a thorough exam coupled with diagnostic imaging studies to identify the cause of your back pain.

Dr. Saleh then creates a customized treatment plan that may include medications, therapies, and lifestyle changes. When necessary, Dr. Saleh can give you a variety of spinal injections or implant a spinal cord stimulator.

What is spinal cord stimulation?

Spinal cord stimulation sends a continuous low-voltage electrical current to the spinal cord in an effort to relieve pain in your back, arm, or leg (sciatica). This does not actually treat the pain itself but instead blocks the pain signals before they get to the brain.

While there are multiple spinal cord stimulation systems available, they all contain a battery-powered pulse generator that initiates the electrical pulses, a lead wire with electrodes to send the pulses to the spinal cord, and a remote control to modify the settings and turn the system on and off.

Successful treatment is defined as pain lessening by 50-70%. While your pain may not be eliminated, you can experience significant relief, allowing you to reduce the number of pain medications you take and improving your ability to complete daily routines.

But everyone reacts to the treatment in different ways, so the first step is a trial stimulation. This way, Dr. Saleh can make sure you are OK with the stimulation sensation and can gauge the percentage of pain reduction. If the trial goes well, Dr. Saleh implants a permanent spinal cord stimulator.

Who is a good candidate for spinal cord stimulation?

Spinal cord stimulation is a possible treatment for anyone experiencing chronic and debilitating pain in the lower back, leg (sciatica), or arm for three months or more. Ideal candidates for spinal cord stimulation have not found relief with more conservative therapies, and many have already had at least one spinal surgery.

You undergo an extensive assessment of your physical health, medications, and previous treatments to determine if you are a good candidate. We may send you to a psychologist for an evaluation because pain can affect your mental health.

Candidates for spinal cord stimulation also must:

If you are experiencing stubborn back pain that hasn't responded to other treatments, call or click to book an appointment with Dr. Saleh today and explore new options including spinal cord stimulation.

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