Chronic pain is common after a traumatic brain or spinal cord injury, and it can be difficult to treat as it typically involves an abnormal delivery of pain messages from the nerves to the brain. Spinal cord stimulation reduces this abnormal delivery of messages, therefore reducing the sensation and perception of pain.
Spinal cord stimulation involves a device that transmits an electrical current, at various settings, delivered via a simple lead placed at different sections of the spine, depending on the area of pain. Various clinical studies have found spinal cord stimulation to be effective, even in patients for whom no other intervention alleviated pain. Recent improvements in the device and in technique have reduced any past complications that were reported.
Spinal cord stimulation is most effective if administered in patients with chronic pain that has persisted for 12-16 weeks despite other treatment. Later treatment may have less success, as the pain becomes more intractable.
Leonardo K. Spinal cord stimulation for intractable chronic pain. Current Pain and Headache Reports. (April 2014).