Chronic back pain is one of the issues that countless doctors and dentists face every day. Many of our clients have suffered from pain that doesn’t allow for effective practice, and thus have had to deal with the disability insurance claims process. According to the American Society of Anesthesiologists, there is a new treatment that could help alleviate some forms of back pain in certain patients. We’re going to be taking a look at the study they published regarding spinal cord stimulation (SCS), as well as answer some questions about SCS for those who don’t know about it.
This study compared the effectiveness of high frequency to traditional SCS therapy for back and leg pain. Researchers treated 90 patients with high frequency therapy while 81 received the traditional SCS. After three months, 85% of back pain patients, and 83% of leg pain patients reported a 50% or greater reduction in pain, while only 44% of back pain patients and 56% of leg pain patients in the traditional SCS group experienced a 50% reduction in pain.
Also, more patients (55% to 32%) in the high frequency group stated that they were “very satisfied” with their pain relief. Patients of the high frequency treatment didn’t experience any paresthesia, which is commonly associated with SCS.
- What is SCS?
SCS is therapy that delivers low-level electrical signals to the spinal cord or to specific nerves in order to block pain signals from reaching the brain.
- How does SCS work?
A device is implanted in the back near the spinal cord through a needle and generator is placed through a small incision in the upper buttock. The patient is able to adjust the intensity of the signals or turn the current on or off.
- How does the SCS stay charged?
It depends on the device: some SCS systems have a pulse generator, which is like a battery, some have a rechargeable pulse generator system that can be charged through the skin, and others do not require recharging but last a shorter time before they need to be replaced.
- How much higher is the high frequency SCS?
The high frequency SCS pulses at 10,000 Hz, while traditional SCS has a frequency between 40 and 60 Hz.
- What is paresthesia?
Paresthesia is a sensation such as tingling or buzzing that is commonly associated with SCS. It is thought to potentially mask a patient’s perception of pain, and is often distracting or uncomfortable, thus limiting the effectiveness or desirability of SCS treatment.
- What are the risks of SCS?
SCS doesn’t address the source of the pain; it merely interrupts the pain signals sent to the brain from your body. If you have pain that stems from a correctable anatomical problem, it is probably best to look for treatment that will address this problem first. SCS also involves an implant and surgery, which naturally comes with risks and potential complications.
- Allergic reactions to the implanted material
- Weakness, numbing, clumsiness, paralysis
- Fluid lead from the spinal cord
- Migration of the electrode
- What is this treatment called?
The treatment is being called HF10™.
This study is just the first step in a new treatment that could bring relief to people suffering from chronic pain. We encourage you to speak with your doctor before starting any sort of treatment.