Before we dive into the questions and answers about spinal cord stimulation it is important to understand the procedure and its benefits. From our website’s description of spinal cord stimulation and how it can help pain:
“Spinal cord stimulation is an intervention that involves implanting a medical device near the spine. This device is designed to deliver low-level electrical impulses (which are also the basis of nervous system signaling) to the epidural space, near the spinal cord. Typically, these devices include a hand-held controller that sends these pain-blocking impulses as needed. The goal of this treatment method is to override the pain response system by blocking the signals of pain sent to the brain from the peripheral nervous system.”
Spinal cord stimulation is a fairly safe, minimally invasive procedure with few side effects that many healthcare professionals are promoting for its use in pain management. As with any procedure, however, there are sure to be questions. Here are answers for some of the most commonly asked questions about spinal cord stimulators.
What are the risks for this procedure?
The most common risk with an implanted device is infection. There may also be unexpected movement of the implant or you may experience an allergic reaction. A system may also stop working if the battery is depleted. Your doctor will test for and discuss all of these risk factors with you prior to the procedure.
Can I travel with this implant?
Both driving and flying are completely safe after having a spinal cord stimulator implanted. Some experts advise that you turn off the device before operating a motor vehicle. You should also turn the stimulator off when passing through airport security but it can be on during the flight.
Can I resume physical activities after implantation?
Most physical activities are considered safe after the procedure. It is always advisable to talk with your specialist regarding exercise, hobbies, and work.
How do I know if the batteries are working?
There are two types of implants: rechargeable and non-rechargeable. You will be shown how to properly use a rechargeable unit and maintain power. Your doctor will be able to advise you on the battery life of your non-rechargeable unit.
What other questions do you have about spinal cord stimulators?
Image by Marcin Wichary via Flickr