For treating chronic or severe pain that originates in the nervous system and does not respond to other treatment options, physicians may opt for an implantable medical device known as a Spinal Cord Stimulator (SCS) or Dorsal Column Stimulator (DCS). The device works through an electrical impulse that replaces the patient’s perception of pain with a tingling sensation.
A surgical procedure places small electrical wires on the spinal cord, and a pulse generator is implanted in the side of the back, upper hip area, abdomen or buttocks. Most often, the procedure is done under local anesthesia with the patient mildly sedated.
Following the implantation, patients often find the pain is completely gone or greatly reduced, and is replaced by a constant sensation of stimulation. Because it is difficult to predict which patients will be helped by the procedure, temporary wires are first used.