Neurostimulation delivers low voltage electrical stimulation to the spinal cord or targeted peripheral nerve to block the sensation of pain. One theory, the Gate Control Theory of Pain, developed by researchers Ronald Melzack and Patrick Wall, proposes that neurostimulation activates the body’s pain inhibitory system. According to this theory, there is a gate in the spinal cord that controls the flow of noxious pain signals to the brain.
The theory suggests that the body can inhibit these pain signals or “close the gate” by activating certain non- noxious nerve fibers in the dorsal horn of the spinal cord.The neurostimulation system, implanted in the epidural space, stimulates these pain-inhibiting nerve fibers, masking the sensation of pain with a tingling sensation (paresthesia).Neurostimulation may be the appropriate treatment for the management of certain chronic pain conditions, including: Failed Back Syndrome (FBS), Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS), and arachnoiditis.
A spinal cord stimulator is a pain management method that sends electrical impulses to block pain from being perceived in the brain. A lead (small wire) is surgically implanted in the area of the spine thought to be transmitting the pain message to the brain. The lead is attached to a power source. A low level electrical current is passed through the lead to the spinal cord, interfering with the specific pain signal and preventing the brain from receiving the pain signal. The stimulation is felt as a tingling sensation. The patient can control the system by turning it on or off as needed, or adjusting the intensity. A temporary placement is first conducted to evaluate the effectiveness of the device prior to impermanent implantation. The procedure is usually performed in an outpatient setting under local anesthesia.