Tips for Getting Through the Trial Phase of Your Spinal Cord Stimulator

About 50,000 spinal cord stimulators are placed each year in the United States. Spinal cord stimulators involve a minimally invasive implantation procedure, and they work to quiet pain sensations and help you live a more active life.

A spinal cord stimulator can be an effective treatment option for chronic nerve pain, but it doesn’t work for everyone. That’s why you need to participate in a trial phase before undergoing the permanent placement procedure.

Eric Fanaee, MD, regularly performs trial and permanent spinal cord stimulator procedures, and he can help you find out if it’s a good option for you. If conservative treatment isn’t enough for your pain, it could be time to consider a spinal cord stimulator trial, and these tips can help you make the most of the trial phase.

Familiarize yourself with the implantation process

Spinal cord stimulators send low-level electrical currents to your spinal cord. The current interrupts pain signals to your brain, eliminating pain sensations.

A permanent spinal cord stimulator is wireless, and the controller is placed just below your skin. The trial implantation simulates a permanent spinal cord stimulator, but the control device is connected through wires outside your body.

Dr. Fanaee places the trial stimulator along your spinal cord in a minimally invasive procedure. He relies on your feedback to ensure the leads are in the best possible location. Once the leads are placed, you can control the electrical currents with a handheld device.

Pay attention to your pain levels

Dr. Fanaee gives you at-home care instructions for the duration of your trial, which typically lasts 3-10 days. During your trial, it’s important to be active so you can find out if spinal cord stimulation effectively relieves your pain.

You can participate in most normal daily activities, but you may need to restrict certain activities during your trial so the lead wires aren’t disturbed. Prepare to pay attention to your pain level during the day and at night — keep a notepad handy to record sensations you observe and to rate pain levels. 

Ask yourself questions each day, including:

Don’t hesitate to reach out to Dr. Fanaee with questions during the trial period. At the end of your trial, you can share your experience to help you decide how to move forward.

Set realistic expectations

The trial phase mimics the effects of a permanent spinal cord stimulator, but it’s important to note that this treatment isn’t effective for everyone. Keeping a record of your pain level during the day, at night, and when you’re active can help you determine if spinal cord stimulation is a viable treatment for your pain.

Generally, spinal cord stimulation is considered an effective treatment for you if you experience a 50% reduction in pain symptoms during your trial. If you’re happy with your results, Dr. Fanaee may recommend permanent spinal cord stimulator implantation.

If you don’t experience significant reduction in your pain, he can explore other options to manage your chronic pain. A failed spinal cord stimulator trial can be frustrating, but Dr. Fanaee is committed to helping you find real relief from your pain.

When conservative treatment isn’t enough to relieve your chronic nerve pain, a spinal cord stimulator could be the answer. Find out if you’re a candidate for a spinal cord stimulator trial in a consultation with Dr. Fanaee. Contact us by phone or online today.

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