Research has shown that approximately one in three Americans suffer from chronic pain, with an annual cost of $560 to $635 billion from associated healthcare costs and lost productivity (Cruz et al, 2015). Historically, physicians have attempted to manage pain by using opioid-based analgesics which include medications like oxycodone and hydrocodone. Patients commonly report that pain medication becomes less effective over time, even with dose escalations and polypharmacy. Furthermore, the consequences of long-term opioid use are numerous, including over 16,000 related deaths annually. This has driven more pain management physicians to seek alternative treatment modalities, such as spinal cord stimulation (SCS). SCS is an invasive therapy used to provide pain relief for multiple types of chronic pain diagnoses when conservative and medical therapies fail.
Spinal cord stimulation is achieved by the introduction of electrical current to the painful area providing a more pleasant sensation, replacing the painful sensation; this is done by introducing a thin flexible electrode into the epidural space, which will then be used to stimulate specific targets to treat a variety of pain disorders. SCS is the number one indication in the treatment of chronic pain despite having spinal surgery, also known as “failed back surgery syndrome” (FBSS). Prospective randomized studies in patients who are candidates for a second spine surgery have shown to do better with SCS with pain reduction, health care utilization, and crossover to additional therapies and long-term costs (Deer, 2010). SCS is also used to manage pain from chronic regional pain syndrome (CRPS), ischemic limb pain, neuropathy, and cervical or lumbar persistent radiculopathy.
DeVera, MSN, CRNP, Teresita and Blyzniuk, Carol A. BSN, RN
"Living with a Spinal Cord Stimulator,"
JHN Journal: Vol. 11:
2, Article 3.
Available at: https://jdc.jefferson.edu/jhnj/vol11/iss2/3