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Spinal Cord Stimulation: Your Experience

Your health care provider does a stimulator placement in two stages. He or she does a trial (test) stage to see how well spinal cord stimulation works for you. If the trial stage is a success, the permanent stimulator system is put into place.

Woman sitting at table, talking to doctor.

Getting Ready at Home

Your doctor will give you guidelines on how to get ready for the procedures. Tell your doctor what medications you take, and ask if you should stop taking any of them. Do not eat or drink for 8 hours before you check in for the procedures.

Placing the Trial Leads

Your doctor will place the trial leads under the skin on your back through a small incision. He or she will place one end of the leads near your spinal cord. Your doctor will attach the other end of the leads to the stimulator power source. He or she will then adjust the stimulator to the right level. For the trial stage, you wear the power source outside your body.

The Trial Stage

Your doctor will instruct you to keep a second pain log during the trial stage. You can compare this log with your first pain log to show how well the stimulator system is working for you.

Placing the Permanent System

If the trial stimulator works well for you, a permanent system will be put into place. This must be done in the hospital. Prepare for it as instructed. The receiver or the power source is implanted under the skin on your abdomen or buttocks. The power source is small, so it won’t show under your clothing. Some devices are rechargeable After the system is in place, the settings are checked to make sure they are at the right level for you.

After the Procedures

You may stay in the hospital overnight. The implant site will be sore for a few days. The leads need some time to become fixed so they don’t move around. Your doctor will tell you what activities to avoid for the next month or so.

When to Call Your Doctor

Call your doctor right away if you have:

  • Fever over 101.0°F (38.3°C)

  • Chills

  • Pain, drainage, or increased redness at the implant site.

Also call your doctor if the pain symptoms return.

 

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