As a double-board certified orthopedic surgeon, Patrick McNulty, MD, FABSS, FABOS, sees many patients grappling with chronic pain at McNulty Spine in Las Vegas and Henderson, Nevada.
If you can relate, you’ve probably tried just about everything to relieve the pain to no avail.
This is the perfect time to enlist Dr. McNulty’s help. He specializes in pain management, especially complex cases of chronic pain stemming from spinal injuries, diseases, and deformities. When conservative treatments fail, Dr. McNulty uses next-level approaches that can stop your pain so you can start living again.
One such treatment that has proven effective for many patients is spinal cord stimulation (SCS). Here’s an overview of what SCS entails, the conditions it treats, and whether you’re a suitable candidate for this procedure.
Understanding spinal cord stimulation
Simply put, spinal cord stimulation uses an implantable device to transmit electrical signals to your spinal cord.
While the definition is simple, the science is complex. Dr. McNulty feeds tiny wires that lead to the nerves in the epidural space surrounding your spinal cord, and as the electrical currents travel through them, the signals interrupt the perception of pain in your brain, effectively masking the feeling of discomfort.
He also implants a tiny battery-powered generator connected to the leads under your skin. You control the power levels with an external remote.
What conditions can SCS treat?
Dr. McNulty often recommends SCS for chronic pain conditions, particularly those that haven’t responded well to other treatments. The list of potential conditions that can benefit from SCS is long, but here are a few of the most common:
- Complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS)
- Failed back surgery syndrome (FBSS)
- Chronic lower back pain
- Peripheral neuropathy
- Arachnoiditis, inflamed membranes around your nerves
- Chronic neck pain
- Refractory angina (chest pain)
- Spinal cord injuries
- Postherpetic neuralgia (pain from shingles-related nerve damage)
SCS also treats other nerve-related conditions that cause persistent back, arm, or leg pain.
Candidate criteria for SCS
You’re an ideal candidate for SCS if you’ve had chronic pain for at least six months, haven’t found relief from other treatments, and don’t have other health conditions that prevent you from receiving the treatment. A positive attitude toward the procedure and realistic expectations about its results are also plusses.
Who shouldn’t get SCS?
There are certain circumstances where Dr. McNulty doesn’t recommend SCS. For example, you aren’t a good candidate for SCS if you have:
- A systemic infection can spread via the implanted device
- Cardiac pacemakers, because the electrical signals from the SCS device could interfere
- Severe mental illness can interfere with pain perception pain and treatment efficacy
- A bleeding disorder can increase your risk of hematoma post-implantation
- Drug addiction could compromise the treatment outcome and your ability to adhere to post-operative care instructions
If you aren’t a good candidate for SCS, Dr. McNulty can recommend other pain management treatments to relieve your chronic pain.
The mandatory trial phase
Qualifying as a good candidate for SCS is only the first step. You undergo a mandatory trial phase before he permanently implants the SCS device.
Dr. McNulty places temporary leads in this phase but doesn’t implant the generator device. The trial allows us to determine whether SCS will successfully manage your pain. It usually lasts about a week, and if you experience a significant reduction in pain (typically by 50% or more), we move forward with the full implantation.
If conservative treatments haven’t quelled your chronic pain, and you fit the description of a good candidate for SCS, book online or call McNulty Spine to schedule a consultation and talk with Dr. McNulty about your treatment options, including SCS.