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Spinal Cord Stimulator: FAQ

Bellevue Spinal Cord Stimulator Doctor Seattle

It can be frustrating and depressing to have your chronic pain continue after various treatments and even surgery. Spinal cord stimulators have been a proven and long term treatment option for chronic pain for the back, arms, and legs.  It is often used when other treatments have been unsuccessful such as physical therapy, oral medication, transdermal medication, injections, or even surgeries. 

Spinal cord stimulation may help patients with the follow conditions:

How do Spinal Cord Stimulators Work?

Spinal cord stimulators work by disrupting the pain signal that travels along the communication pathway from your brain. This method does not treat the source of the pain but overrides the pain signal that the brain sends. A small implantable device is placed along your spinal cord that causes this disruption. Before a permanent spinal cord stimulator can be placed, it is necessary to put in a trial one to make sure it is effective. The trial lasts about one to two weeks. If the trial works at alleviating your pain, you’ll move forward with a permanent spinal cord stimulator placement.


What is the procedure of Spinal Cord Stimulator Implantation like?

During the procedure a small stimulator is placed near your lower back near your spinal cord. The implantable stimulator will have two wires connected to it that will be placed along into the spinal cord epidural space where the pain pathway is located. These wires will send tiny electric energy pulses that disrupt the pain signal that travels along this pathway. If you would like to watch a video showing the procedure, please visit our Spinal Cord Stimulator Page: https://www.bellevuepainwellness.com/services/spinal-cord-stimulator


How do I use the spinal cord stimulator?

The stimulator is wirelessly connected to a handheld remote. This remote allows you to control and customize the strength and pattern of the electrical charge that best disrupts your pain signal. You can change it as often as you like depending on your activity.  For example, if you don’t want to be stimulated while driving you can turn it down or off but turn it back on afterwards. You can have a setting for nighttime vs daytime. The customization is completely up to you.


How do I know if I am a good candidate?

You will be evaluated to see if you are a good candidate for the procedure.  A thorough medical review and physical exam should be done to make sure that there is a correct diagnosis in place. Our team will work with your insurance to get approval for the procedure if you are determined to be a good candidate. We will also work with any other physician or care providers to coordinate care. 


Is spinal cord stimulator implantation safe?

The risks associated with a spinal cord stimulator placement is similar to any surgical procedure, such as infections, bleeding, but the many benefits far outweigh the concerns. In general, the procedure is considered safe and effective, and serious complications are quite rare. Many of the post-surgery issues are related to the device’s mechanics rather than a physical problem because of the implant.

Spinal Cord Stimulator Implantation is a surgical procedure that requires specific training and qualification to ensure not only safety but also effectiveness of treatment. Please ensure that your physician has both the qualifications and training to perform this procedure.  Your physician should be board certified in Pain Management and have completed a Pain Management Fellowship at an accredited institution. 

If you or a loved one have any questions about spinal cord stimulator or want to see if you are a good candidate for it, please call our office at 425-998-7884 to discuss how we can help you. We serve Seattle, Bellevue, Kirkland, Redmond and Issaquah. 

Feel free to check out a few other notable blog posts about chronic lower back pain and shooting here: 




Robert Bowers MD

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