What Are the Benefits of Spinal Cord Stimulation?

Many people experience improvements in their pain symptoms and quality of life after receiving spinal cord stimulation. Some of these benefits may include:

  • Significant and sustained reduction in chronic pain1
  • Improved ability to function and participate in activities of daily living1
  • Less oral pain medication needed2

In addition, this treatment:

  • Has been proven to be safe and effective when used as directed
  • 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
  • Is reversible—the therapy can be turned off or surgically removed

What Are the Risks of Spinal Cord Stimulation?

The neurostimulation implant is placed under the skin surgically. So, surgical complications are possible, similar to other surgeries. These may include infection, pain at the site of surgery, and bleeding into the epidural space.

Once the neurostimulation system is implanted, it’s possible that device complications may occur. These include jolting, lead breaking, and movement of the lead within the epidural space, which may require reprogramming, surgical replacement of the leads, or corrective surgery. These events may result in uncomfortable stimulation or loss of therapy.

Please see Important Safety Information for more details. Also, please discuss the benefits and risks of this therapy with your doctor.

What Are the Advantages Over Other Therapies?

Spinal cord stimulation offers several advantages over other chronic pain treatments:

  • 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.

Why Choose a Medtronic Spinal Cord Stimulation System?

More than one company makes spinal cord stimulation systems. As you and your doctor choose the system that’s right for you, it is important that you research these companies and learn about their history with the therapy.

Here are some important facts to know about Medtronic as a long-standing leader in neurostimulation:

  • Neurostimulation therapy was developed by Medtronic and was first approved in 1984.
  • Only Medtronic offers neurostimulation systems that are FDA-approved for MRI scans anywhere on the body.*
  • Medtronic has transformed the lives of hundreds of thousands of people with chronic pain using spinal cord stimulation.
  • Medtronic is a worldwide leader in medical technology and the largest medical device company in the world.
  • Only Medtronic offers AdaptiveStim®, which automatically adjusts stimulation when you change your position from upright (sitting or standing), lying down, or upright and active.
  • Medtronic offers the most therapeutic options available to meet your specific pain relief needs—including both a rechargeable and non-rechargeable neurostimulation system.
  • Both doctors and patients count on Medtronic for the widest education network available—you can find doctors who are familiar with Medtronic Chronic Pain Therapies in more than 120 countries worldwide.
  • Medtronic spinal cord stimulators can also be used alongside a pacemaker or implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD).

Who Can I Go to for Answers?

There are many resources available to help you get answers to your questions about spinal cord stimulation.

  • Sign up to talk with a nurse.
  • Sign up to talk with someone who has spinal cord stimulation and has volunteered to share his or her experience.
  • Talk with your doctor. If you need help finding a pain management specialist, use our handy Find a Specialist tool. You can also create a doctor discussion guide that captures the kind of information that will help your doctor understand your particular pain and help you find the treatment option that's best for you.

*Under specific conditions; requires SureScan® implantable neurostimulator and Vectris® SureScan leads.


  1. 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.
  2. Ohnmeiss DD, Rashbaum RF, Bogdanffy GM. Prospective outcome evaluation of spinal cord stimulation in patients with intractable leg pain. Spine. 1996;21:1344-1350.