More than 26 million Americans suffer from Chronic Back Pain (CBP) every year at an estimated cost of more than $100 billion. It can have a devastating effect on the quality of work, sleep, exercise, and other aspects of everyday life for those who suffer from it. Many of these patients can be helped significantly with intensive rehab programs or spine surgery, but some select conditions are not amenable to these more main-stream approaches. For this specific population of patients, there are new and incredible innovations that can be very effective.
I recently came across a new device from the Boston Scientific Corporation called the “Precision Spectra Spinal Cord Stimulator.” Spinal Cord Stimulators (SCS) are implanted devices that use “contact points” to deliver electrical pulses to mask pain signals from being delivered to the brain. They have been used for just less than 10 years and are specifically designed to control chronic pain and even motor-function disabilities.
Perhaps the biggest advantage of this device is that they can significantly reduce the need for pain medication, which can become highly addictive, expensive, and take a heavy toll on the body. One patient reportedly went from taking 260 milligrams of morphine daily to just 45, which shows us that The Precision Spectra device takes the option of treatment to the next level.
The Precision Spectra device uses 32 contacts, more than twice the amount used by any SCS device on the market, and each contact can be individually controlled by a wireless remote. Since the device covers a much larger area of the spine, it allows the patient the adaptability for changing the pain patterns. Additionally, the software used with the device has made incredible strides. According to Boston Scientific, “The software is based on a proprietary computer model that takes into account 3D anatomical structures, including the conductivity of the spinal cord and surrounding tissue. The physician simply selects a desired location on the spinal cord and the programming software creates a customized stimulation field.”
Patients even have the option to go through a trial period, during which the device would be worn externally; although for permanent treatment, the device would be implanted through the lower back. It can also be reversed, either by surgically removing the device or simply turning it off. As with any treatment recommendation, the implantation of a Spinal Cord Stimulator is something to consider and discuss thoroughly with your doctor. The ideal candidate is someone for whom traditional surgery may not be an optimal approach. If using one is right for you, there are incredible advances being made every day which can help with your pain management.