Neuromodulation or stimulator implants have been used for a long time to treat complex, treatment-resistant spinal pain. This type of pain is caused by a combination of factors including facet joint, disc, and nerve pain. Stimulator implants deliver high-frequency electrical pulses to the spinal cord or peripheral nerves which modulate the transmission of pain signals to the brain, thereby reducing pain. The devices are implanted in the area of the body affected by pain and are expensive.
Neuromodulation stimulator implants are used as a last resort for people with persistent complex pain who have not responded to other treatment options.
Receiving a neuromodulation implant is a two-step procedure. The first step is the trial stimulation which allows you to experience neuromodulation and determine whether it is effective in lessening your pain. The second step is the implantation of the permanent system. During the trial, you are placed under light anaesthetic sedation, and small incisions are made to place the leads using specialized needles. The leads are connected to a temporary external stimulator which delivers high-frequency stimulation to the area where you are experiencing pain. The external stimulator is disconnected, and the leads are removed. Once you awaken, we measure your pain levels to determine the success of the stimulator with respect to your pain. If the trial is successful, a stimulation implant procedure can be considered.
During the implantation of the permanent system, small incisions are made to place the leads, and a small pocket is made under the skin, usually in the gluteal area, where the implantable pulse generator (IPG) battery is placed. You will receive a wireless programmer that you can use to adjust the stimulation. The stimulator leads can be placed in different areas of the body, depending on your individual needs. There are three types of neuromodulation stimulator implants: spinal cord stimulation (SCS), dorsal root ganglion stimulation (DRG), and peripheral field stimulation.
Neuromodulation stimulator implants deliver high-frequency electrical pulses to the spinal cord or peripheral nerves that modulate the transmission of pain signals to the brain, thereby reducing pain. Stimulator implants are generally used only as a last resort but can be very effective for people with persistent complex pain.
High-frequency 10,000Hz stimulation and burst stimulation are now used more frequently than tonic stimulation. Tonic stimulation - the older model - used lower frequencies, causing people to feel tingling sensations in the area of pain relief. On the other hand, high-frequency stimulation isn’t typically associated with sensations in the stimulation area. The risks and side effects associated with neuromodulation stimulator implants include infection, bleeding, pain at the implant site, and the need for frequent adjustment of the device.