About Medtronic Spinal Cord Stimulation
Spinal cord stimulation (also known as neurostimulation therapy) is delivered with a small spinal cord stimulator (similar to a pacemaker) implanted under the skin. It delivers mild electrical impulses to your spine, causing a tingling sensation in the area of your chronic pain.
Goals of Spinal Cord Stimulation
DR. ERIC GRIGSBY
Pain Management Specialist, California
“The specific improvements that we see in our patients, and certainly that we want to achieve, are improvements in the side effects and the complications of chronic illness.”
How Spinal Cord Stimulation Works
Spinal cord stimulation provides pain relief by modifying the pain messages before they reach the brain. The neurostimulator sends out mild electrical impulses that reach the brain faster than the pain signal can arrive. In other words, it outsmarts your back and leg pain. Instead of feeling pain, you feel a tingling sensation.
See Neurostimulation In Action
See how Medtronic neurostimulation outsmarts pain
You can adjust the strength and location of stimulation using a handheld programmer. For example, you can regulate different levels of stimulation at different times of the day or for various activities – such as walking, sleeping, or sitting.
Depending on the neurostimulation system, the device may feature adaptive stimulation that automatically adjusts stimulation when you change position. Called AdaptiveStim®, this technology remembers the stimulation change and applies the setting the next time you move into that position.
What Patients Say
Neurostimulation Therapy Since 2009
“I get very sick when I take oral meds…that was one of the things that kind of moved me towards the spinal cord stimulator because I didn’t have to take anything orally. I just had to hit a button if I was in pain. And that’s a lot better to me.”
Components of the Neurostimulation System
A complete spinal cord stimulation or neurostimulation system includes several components:
- Neurostimulator – The device, similar to a pacemaker, that sends mild electrical impulses and is usually surgically implanted under the skin in your abdomen or upper buttock
- Leads (pronounced “leeds”) – Thin, insulated medical wires that deliver neurostimulation to the epidural space near the spine
- Physician’s Programmer – A computer at your doctor’s office that lets your doctor adjust the neurostimulation system and set stimulation levels
- Handheld Programmer – A device similar to a remote control that you can use at home to optimize pain relief based on how your pain is changing throughout the day or during various activities
The neurostimulation system does not make any noise. The spinal cord stimulator may be felt as a small bump under your skin, but does not normally show through your clothes.
Medtronic Neurostimulation Therapy Components
See the neurostimulation system components
Benefits of Medtronic Spinal Cord Stimulation
Many people experience improvements in their pain symptoms and quality of life after receiving Medtronic spinal cord stimulation. Benefits may include:
- Significant and sustained reduction in chronic pain1
- Improved ability to function and participate in activities of daily living1
- Less oral pain medications2
- Proven safe and effective when used as directed
- Reversible – the therapy can be turned off or surgically removed
In addition, this treatment:
- Can be adjusted to provide different levels of stimulation for various activities and times of day
- Lets you try the therapy for a short period of time before you receive a permanent implant
Risks of Spinal Cord Stimulation
The neurostimulation implant is surgically placed under the skin. Surgical complications are possible and may include infection, pain at the site of surgery, and bleeding into the epidural space. Once the neurostimulation system is implanted, device complications may occur and include corrective surgery, jolting, lead breaking, and movement of the lead within the epidural space which may require reprogramming or surgical replacement of the leads. These events may result in uncomfortable stimulation or loss of therapy.
See Important Safety Information for more details.
Advantages Over Other Therapies
Both spinal cord stimulation and drug delivery therapy offer several advantages over other chronic pain therapies:
- Unlike other chronic pain treatments or surgeries, you can experience spinal cord stimulation and see if it relieves your pain before committing to the long-term therapy
- A screening test serves as a temporary evaluation period. Like an epidural, a special needle will be used. Instead of injecting medication into the epidural space, temporary medical wires called leads will be placed
- It does not have to be a permanent procedure. The neurostimulator can be surgically removed if you decide to pursue a different treatment
- Unlike oral medications that circulate throughout your entire body, spinal cord stimulation targets the precise area where you are feeling pain
- Spinal cord stimulation may provide relief when other treatments – like medications or injections – have not
Next: Adaptive Stimulation
- Kumar K, Taylor RS, Jacques L, et al. Spinal cord stimulation versus conventional medical management for neuropathic pain: a multicentre randomized controlled trial in patients with failed back surgery syndrome. Pain. 2007;132:179-188.
- Ohnmeiss DD, Rashbaum RF, Bogdanffy GM. Prospective outcome evaluation of spinal cord stimulation in patients with intractable leg pain. Spine. 1996;21:1344-1350.
Last updated: 11 Apr 2012