Spinal Cord Stimulator

Sherwin Hua, MD

Neurosurgeon located in the Bay Area, California

When you’ve been following a treatment program for chronic pain for many months and still aren’t getting any relief, board-certified neurosurgeon Sherwin Hua, MD, can help. Dr. Hua is a world-renowned pioneer in spine surgery and welcomes patients from throughout the Bay Area to his DimeSpine Neurosurgery practice, which has locations in Campbell, Hayward, San Francisco, and San Jose, California. Dr. Hua provides a comprehensive range of treatments for chronic pain and is an expert in using spinal cord stimulation. Find out more about spinal cord stimulator implantation by calling DimeSpine Neurosurgery today or request an appointment online.

Spinal Cord Stimulator Q & A

What is a spinal cord stimulator?

A spinal cord stimulator is a device that could help people who have chronic, painful back problems that aren’t responding to less invasive treatments. The stimulator is implantable, so you wear it under your skin and control it using a handheld device.

Spinal cord stimulation works by transmitting electrical pulses into your spinal cord. These pulses interfere with pain signals traveling from the nerves in and near your spine to your brain, effectively reducing or eliminating chronic back pain.

Implanting a spinal cord stimulator involves a minimally invasive surgical procedure. Before committing to a permanent implant, Dr. Hua allows you to experience how the spinal cord stimulator works by performing a trial implantation.

What is involved in a trial implantation of a spinal cord stimulator?

The trial spinal cord stimulator implantation involves Dr. Hua inserting insulated wire leads into your back. You need to have a local anesthetic to numb your back, then Dr. Hua inserts the leads through a small incision in your skin. 

The leads enter the epidural space that surrounds your spinal cord, and Dr. Hua positions them, so they’re making contact with your nerve endings. The electrical pulses coming from the leads stimulate your spinal nerves and help block transmission of pain signals. 

The leads attach at the other end to an external trial stimulator. To ensure they’re in the right place, Dr. Hua asks you to tell him how well the electrodes work in slightly different positions.

Dr. Hua uses an external wireless programmer to set up the spinal cord stimulator’s electrical pulses. You can use the programming device to turn the system on and off, adjust the strength of the signal, and move between different settings. 

After living with the spinal cord stimulator for a week, you return to Dr. Hua and discuss how the trial went. If you got on well and found the stimulator to be effective, you can undergo permanent implantation.

What is involved in the permanent implantation of a spinal cord stimulator?

For the permanent implantation procedure, you need to be sedated or have a general anesthetic. 

Dr. Hua removes the trial leads and replaces them with permanent leads. He makes a small incision in your abdomen or buttocks, into which he places the implantable pulse generator (IPG) battery. To complete the implantation process, Dr. Hua connects the leads to the IPG battery.

You may experience some post-surgical swelling and discomfort where Dr. Hua made the incisions, but this should pass within a few days. 

If conservative treatments aren’t helping relieve your back pain, talk to Dr. Hua about spinal cord stimulation. Call DimeSpine Neurosurgery today, or request an appointment online.