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What is a spinal cord stimulator implant?

Updated on January 11, 2014

Spinal cord stimulator is used to eliminate pain in your lower back into the sciatic nerve. This technique uses electrical impulses that prevent pain signals from reaching the brain. Spinal cord stimulator is typically used for patients for whom conservative treatment had been ineffective and surgery has not helped.

The use of local anesthetics with the help of a needle through a small incision near the spinal cord, the physician places one or more electrodes that prevent pain signals from reaching the brain. Patient's physician will help determine where the electrodes must be placed by the sensation that blocks pain stimulation.

The electrodes are connected to temporary stimulator to be used for several days to determine whether the spinal cord stimulator helps the patient or not. This procedure is known as spinal cord stimulator trial. If during the approval period, the pain reduces by 50%, a permanent spinal cord stimulator system can be placed.

How spinal cord stimulator implant works?
How spinal cord stimulator implant works?

Spinal Cord Stimulation Implantation: Percutaneous Implantation Techniques

Second procedure is usually performed under general anesthesia. Temporary electrodes are removed through an incision or needle electrodes are placed permanently. The receiver is implanted subcutaneously in breech or abdominal cavity. Power supply for the implant can be internal (pulse generator) or external (transmitter or antenna). The electrical impulses of the implant are controlled with an external device, which allows the patient on or off and change the intensity, frequency and duration of impulses.

After implantation, the patient may feel moderate discomfort and swelling at the incision site for several days. Over some time period of use of SCS, the electrodes can move or be damaged by heavy use and then the patient requires spinal cord stimulator replacement.

Possible side effects are comparable to the effects of a single injection. Patients may have allergic reactions, bacterial infection or bleeding that rarely happens. It is obligatory to inform your doctor about the pregnancy or the use of blood thinning medications before being placed on spinal cord stimulators.


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    • profile image


      8 years ago

      I bought a tens unit a few months ago for migraines and it did not help at all. They gave me Botox for Migraines and it worked wonders. I have only had 11 migraines in 3 months instead of my normal 22-25 a month yes that was a month. I have MS and the nerves are damaged in my right hand my fingers are the worse they are in constant pain 24/7. My Dr told me this week that they will do pain block shots for my hand, I have had them before for my migraines but they did not help much. But she said these may work good for my hand and if it does they will do a spinal cord implant. I am ready for anything to be able to not be in constant pain. Any advise Cin

    • profile image

      Anita MacCutcheon 

      8 years ago

      Hi,I am supposed to get a spinal cord stim.however my Son is realy nervos about it,since I nearly died in July of 11,I was going in to Liver and Kidney failure so now he is just a wreck that something else could go wrong.I need to mention that I am 70 years old.Thanks for any advise or suggestions Anita

    • soni2006 profile imageAUTHOR

      Rajinder Soni 

      9 years ago from New Delhi, India

      That's really disheartening twiggidy. Sorry to hear your story about failed spinal cord stimulator implantation.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      I had a spinal cord stimulator implant device put in to help with pain management due to RSD about 11 years ago. Unfortunately, the device only worked for about 18 months because I had to use it so much and had to turn it up to the highest settings. My doctors wouldn't put another one in so I was S.O.L.

    • soni2006 profile imageAUTHOR

      Rajinder Soni 

      9 years ago from New Delhi, India

      TENS unit are now also and are in use in treating this condition but spinal cord stimulator is a better device. Thanks electric sky for your review of this hub.

    • electricsky profile image


      9 years ago from North Georgia

      I have heard of TENS units as they were around 25 years ago. This sounds like them. Thanks for your hub.

    • soni2006 profile imageAUTHOR

      Rajinder Soni 

      10 years ago from New Delhi, India

      Thanks a lot friend. Thanks for the good read.

    • stars439 profile image


      10 years ago from Louisiana, The Magnolia and Pelican State.

      Very interesting.God Bless You

    • soni2006 profile imageAUTHOR

      Rajinder Soni 

      10 years ago from New Delhi, India

      Yes Lady_E, if science and technology is applied in a correct manner for benefit of human beings like treating health problems with new electronic equipment such as a spinal cord stimulator and pacemakers, it is really great but if science and technology is applied in creating new discoveries related to destruction and devastation such as creation of atom bombs, missiles, and nuclear bombs, it is really bad.

    • Lady_E profile image


      10 years ago from London, UK

      This is interesting. Technology is really improving in helping people with Health Problems. Thanks for sharing Soni. :)

    • soni2006 profile imageAUTHOR

      Rajinder Soni 

      10 years ago from New Delhi, India

      Thanks a lot Tintent and Veronica for your review of this hub. I will have a look into Tintent's blog today plus Veronica, I saw your profile in the home page of hubpages today which is excellent. You are working hard and doing it seriously. Best of luck friend.

    • Veronica Allen profile image

      Veronica Allen 

      10 years ago from Georgia

      I hope everything goes well for you Jamie.

      Sonni I agree with Tintent, your article was concise, to the point, and easy to read. You always report on the information in an unbiased way, enabling the reader to make the decision on their own. Thanks for another great and informative hub.

    • Tintent profile image


      10 years ago from Dunbar, East Lothian

      Thanks Soni, this is a nice, concise article giving an introduction to Spinal Column Stimulation. Your description of the process is accurate and easy to follow.

      I'm currently waiting for corrective surgery after my stimulator stopped working correctly. If this fails, my doctor says we will then consider an implanted Drug Pump (possibly a future subject for you to look at!).

      Anyone interested in my story can follow my experiences on my blog at:




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