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Spinal Cord Stimulation


Despite best efforts with physical therapy, medicines, pain interventions, and surgeries, some patients will have persistent neuropathic leg or arm pain or back pain. In some situations, spinal cord stimulation may decrease pain in these areas and improve quality of life.

What is spinal cord stimulation?

Spinal cord stimulation has been used for decades for the treatment of chronic neuropathic lower extremity pain in patients whose pain has not improved with spine surgery. Over the last several years, improvements in technology have led to new and better stimulation patterns that have improved and expanded the use of this technology while making it more convenient for patients.

Stimulator leads are placed in the epidural space near the mid to lower spinal cord in the middle back (thoracic spine). There, stimulation is applied to the spinal cord. Depending on the device used, you may feel a paresthesia (a buzzing or massaging sensation) overlapping the area of pain you have, or in some devices, no sensation at all. The goal of therapy is to decrease pain and improve function.

A significant advantage of spinal cord stimulation is that there is a trial period before the device is permanently implanted. This way the patient can try the technology and experience its effect. The patient then has a reasonable degree of certainty as to what kind of pain relief he or she would obtain with a permanent implant.

Who is a candidate for spinal cord stimulation?

If you are interested in spinal cord stimulation or believe you could benefit from the procedure, please speak with your Summit specialist. It is generally recommended for:

 Overview of the spinal cord stimulator trial procedure

Here’s what to expect during the spinal cord stimulator trial procedure:

The trial period lasts about one week.

How should I prepare for the spinal cord stimulator trial procedure?

Potential risks of spinal cord stimulator trials

Spinal cord stimulator trials are relatively safe, minimally invasive procedures. The risks associated with the procedure include:

These complications are all very rare.

After the procedure

If your procedure includes sedation

Summit Orthopedics offers comprehensive spine expertise

Summit’s spine care team is recognized by the National Committee for Quality Assurance for the comprehensive expertise of our patient-centered care. Our back specialists diagnose spine problems and design custom treatment plans built on a conservative, nonsurgical approach. Most patients find relief through treatments including guided injections, specialized physical therapy, biofeedback, exercise, activity modification, and medication. When conservative care does not relieve symptoms, our highly skilled surgeons offer proven, evidence-based surgical options. Together with you, we will determine the right course of action.

Start your journey to a healthy spine. Find your spine expert, request an appointment online, or call us at (651) 968–5201 to schedule a spine consultation.

Summit has convenient locations across the Minneapolis-St. Paul metro area, serving Minnesota and western Wisconsin. We have state-of-the-art centers for comprehensive orthopedic care in Eagan, MNVadnais Heights, MN, and Woodbury, MN, as well as additional community clinics throughout the metro and southern Minnesota.

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