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Spinal Cord Stimulation / Dorsal Column Stimulation (SCS/DCS)


If you’ve already tried medications, physical therapy, steroid injections or nerve blocks and you still have chronic pain, then SCS/DCS may be the next step for successful treatment. If the “trial run” we perform indicates that your pain responds to SCS/DCS, we will implant a permanent system. This consists of a tiny power source implanted under the skin of your abdomen or upper buttock. The device is undetectable beneath clothing. When the implantation is completed, we’ll fine-tune the settings to achieve the optimal level of stimulation for controlling your pain. After instruction in using the system’s controller, you can self-manage how much electrical stimulation you need to maintain pain control.

Procedure Details and Expectations

The “trial run” or testing the efficacy of SCS/DCS for you:

  • A local anesthetic will numb the implant area.
  • Through a small incision, we’ll place very thin wires (leads) under the skin and into the space around your spinal cord (epidural space).
  • The leads will be connected to a power source about the size of a cell phone, which you’ll carry with you during the trial period.
  • If SCS/DCS is effective in controlling your pain, you’ll return in a few weeks for the permanent power source (generator.)

Implanting the permanent system:

  • This minimally-invasive surgery takes 1 to 2 hours under general anesthesia in the hospital 
  • We’ll make a small surgical incision and place the tiny permanent generator under the skin of your abdomen or upper buttock.
  • The generator is battery-powered by either rechargeable or long-life batteries lasting up to 5 years. Surgery is required to replace the battery. 

How to Prepare for Treatment

  • You might need to stop taking blood thinners, aspirin and other drugs like Advil, Motrin, Aleve and Naprosyn, which impair blood clotting.
  • Inform us of all medicines you are taking, including over-the-counter drugs and supplements, such as vitamins and herbal remedies. We’ll let you know which ones are okay to continue taking.
  • We’ll give you full instructions about keeping your stomach empty before the procedure.
  • If you are a smoker, your recovery may be slower and the treatment less effective. Ask us about help with smoking cessation.
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