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New and Improved Spinal Cord Stimulators Offer Drug-Free Relief for Chronic Back Pain

Chronic back pain can be so severe and debilitating that you’ll turn to almost anything to stop it. But drugs can lead to lon

Given the widespread opioid epidemic that’s killed 47,000 people at last official count in 2017, the last thing you want to do is take potentially addictive medication to solve your symptoms. But living with chronic back pain isn’t an option either. So what can you do?

Dr. Michael Yang and Dr. John Hau at Summit Pain Alliance, have the answer you’ve been looking for. They have helped many patients overcome chronic back pain using state-of-the-art spinal cord stimulation, avoiding dependency on drugs to mask their symptoms. To understand how this amazing technology works, it helps to understand how pain operates.

Pain 101

When you injure yourself, all the nerve endings in the area jump into action sending signals to your brain that you’re in pain. Under normal circumstances, this is a good thing. It triggers your involuntary response to shield your injury and protect it from further harm. It alerts you that there’s a problem so you can attend to it with first aid or professional medical attention. 

But what happens when you keep feeling pain long after the injury has healed? Or what if you have a condition that won’t resolve and keeps you in a constant state of agony? That’s called chronic pain, and it’s a common complaint when it comes to the lower back region. It could stem from a herniated disc, a compressed nerve, a bone spur, or spinal stenosis, to name but a few of the most prevalent conditions. Whatever the cause, the pain is real.

The first course of action is to fix the underlying problem, of course. But when that’s not an option, it’s possible to stop those pain signals from firing.

How spinal cord stimulation works

To stop your pain messages, we need to disrupt the communication between your nerves and your brain. Tiny electrical currents are very effective in doing that, which is the idea behind spinal cord stimulation.

We insert a very small electrode into your spinal cord and a little generator in your buttock or abdominal area. With an external remote, you’re now in control of your pain and can administer drug-free relief to yourself anytime, anywhere. 

What’s new in spinal cord stimulation?

The concept of spinal cord stimulation has been around for about three decades, so you can rest assured that’s it been tested and proven safe and effective. But as with most technology, there have been some significant improvements over time that have made it even better. Here six ways that spinal cord stimulation has advanced recently:

  1. It works better: Earlier versions of spinal cord stimulation relied on low-frequency energy pulses to interrupt your nerve’s messages, but today’s procedures use high-frequency pulses and have a higher success rate
  2. It’s shrunk: Smaller is better when it comes to implanting a device in your spine. The latest electrodes are barely detectable and much more comfortable.
  3. Better battery: New batteries have a longer lifespan, which means you can enjoy an uninterrupted pain-free life for much longer — about 25 years, rather than the three years from the older version.
  4. It does more: Just like the multiple functions on your TV remote, your spinal cord stimulator has options that let you set customized parameters for your personal pain management, including frequency, potency, and adjustments or body movements.
  5. Less invasive: Early models required incisions large enough to insert the electrode and the generator. But with the smaller devices, we only need to make one or two tiny incisions. We are even able to insert the device through a hollow needle in some cases. This reduces the risk of infection and improves healing and scarring.
  6. It’s MRI-compatible: Because MRIs use strong magnets, anything metal in your body would put you in danger. Newer spinal cord stimulators are MRI-compatible, so you can undergo that diagnostic procedure without fear. 

Your back is essential in just about everything you do, so keeping it healthy and pain-free is vital. If you’re in chronic pain and conservative treatments haven’t brought you any relief, it may be time to consider the next level — drug-free, FDA-approved, minimally invasive spinal cord stimulation. Call us to talk about your options.

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