Neuropathic pain is usually felt as a burning or throbbing, is typically constant, and sometimes worsens at night time. Neuropathic pain can be a common result of a damaged nerve that was initially affected by a disc or bone spur or another form of trauma.
The treatment of neuropathic pain may include medications and spinal cord stimulation. Spinal cord stimulation is a technique whereby electrodes are placed in the spinal canal alongside the spinal cord. The electrodes deliver electrical stimulation to the region of the spinal cord with the aim of blocking the transmission of pain signals from the back, arms, and legs. Various medications may help to treat neuropathic pain. If the pain does not respond to pain medications, then spinal cord stimulation is a reasonable option.
A spinal cord stimulation trial is first done to determine if the pain is responsive to stimulation. It involves the placement of a lead into the spinal canal and externally connected to a battery. It allows for the patient to experience the degree of pain relief for several days. If there is a significant pain reduction then a permanent spinal cord stimulator is placed.
A spinal cord stimulator consists of an electrical lead that is connected to a wire which is connected to a small generator/battery typically at the level of the hip. The procedure usually takes 1–2 hours and usually will require one night stay in the hospital. The goal of a spinal cord stimulator is to reduce pain and therefore to reduce or eliminate use of pain medications.