Typically, people who find the treatment helpful experience effective pain relief. However, spinal cord stimulation does not eliminate the source of the pain, so the amount of pain reduction varies from person to person.
It is important that you manage your expectations of spinal cord stimulation. Not everyone responds to neurostimulation the same way, and your experience may vary. To understand the benefits and risks of spinal cord stimulation, please discuss them with your doctor.Show Less
Talk to your doctor to determine what kinds of pain treatments would work for you. The choice of treatment depends on the type of pain, how severe it is, and how you respond to the pain treatment. If your doctor thinks you are a good candidate for spinal cord stimulation, you can complete a trial so that you can experience the therapy to see if it will work for you.Show Less
Spinal cord stimulation (also known as neurostimulation) provides pain relief by disrupting the pain signals traveling between the spinal cord and the brain. It is a proven safe and effective treatment for chronic pain.
One component of spinal cord stimulation is a neurostimulator that:
- Is a device similar to a pacemaker
- Is surgically implanted under the skin, typically in your abdomen or upper buttocks
- Delivers mild electrical impulses to an area near your spine through one or more leads (insulated medical wires).
There are many different groups focusing on several aspects of spinal cord injury research. In general, research focuses on developing therapies that protect the spinal cord cells from the injury process (cellular protection), improving rehabilitation and recovery of function by increasing plasticity (connections), promoting repair and regeneration of damaged spinal cord tissue, understanding the causes and developing treatments for secondary complications such as pain, spasticity, or autonomic dysreflexia. Although the protective strategies typically focus on the newly injured, several other lines of research will also be of great benefit to those who have been injured longer.Show Less
Schwann cells, the cells of the peripheral nerve that produce myelin, play an important role in the repair of the injured peripheral nerve by providing both physical and trophic support. Indeed, it is thought that Schwann cells are a key to the ability of the peripheral nerve to repair to a much greater extent after injury than the spinal cord. Schwann cells are known to create an artificial means of guiding the regrowth of axons to facilitate nerve regeneration. Schwann cells also release neurotrophic factors that stimulate regeneration and repair of damaged neurons and can remyelinate demyelinated or newly sprouted axons. New clinical trials testing the safety of Schwann cells transplantation in SCI are underway. Thus, Schwann cells, like stem cells, are a promising potential treatment, although many questions about the safety and effectiveness remain to be answered.Show Less
The term “stem cell” is a broad one that includes many types of cells from many tissue origins. Although current advances in stem cell research and technology show that stem cells may have therapeutic potential, many unanswered questions remain and other new questions emerge. For example, each type of stem cell has specific attributes, and it is not yet known which cell type is the “best” for treatment after SCI. Also, questions of dosage (i.e. how many cells and what time after SCI) and safety in humans have not yet been answered in clinical trials. Thus, more research is vital to understand the potential and application of this promising approach. It is an exciting time for stem cell research, but many crucial questions on the use of stem cells remain. As there are many features of the use of stem cell transplant therapy that remain unknown, it is impossible to provide a definitive timeline.Show Less
The central idea behind cell transplantation for spinal cord injury (SCI) is that the cells are thought to promote repair and regeneration by secreting growth-promoting molecules (neurotrophic factors), providing a scaffold for regenerating axons, remyelinating damaged axons, or even replacing damaged or lost cells.Show Less
Medical costs for a spinal cord injury can include, but are not limited to:
- Trauma care or emergency services;
- Long-term care such as in-home nurses;
- Medical equipment like wheelchairs;
- Prescription medications;
- Pain management;
- Other hidden expenses such as travel costs to and from the hospital, parking fees, food while traveling, or therapy for depression also contribute to medical expenses;
- As a victim recovers, he or she will also lose wages resulting from time away from work. In some cases, the potential to earn an income may be limited or lost altogether if the injury is severe;
- The total cost of spinal cord surgery is difficult to estimate, since it depends on many factors.
A spinal cord injury can have adverse effects on a variety of functions throughout the body:
- Bladder/bowel control: the brain may not be able to communicate with the bladder or bowels following a spinal cord injury, and changes in control may require new techniques to empty each respectively to avoid infection.
- Skin sensation: without proper sensation, victims may have difficulty detecting pressure, heat, or cold. This can result in subsequent injury.
- Circulatory control: circulatory problems include both high and low blood pressure, as well as increased rates for developing blood clots, pulmonary embolus, and other circulatory disorders.
- Respiratory system: sometimes the location of a spinal cord injury affects control of the abdominal and chest muscles, as well as the diaphragm. The loss of functioning in these muscles can result in labored breathing, lung problems, or pneumonia.
- Muscle tone: without control of the appendages, it is common for spinal cord victims to experience either uncontrolled tightening or motion in the muscles or soft and limp muscles that lack tone or definition.
- Sexual health: men and women may experience changes in sexual function following a spinal cord injury.
- Mental health: changes to the body following a spinal cord injury can be devastating, and depression is a common side effect.
Treatment of spinal stenosis can be conservative or surgical. The modes of conservative therapy include rest, physical therapy with strengthening exercises for paraspinal musculature, bracing, use of optimal postural biomechanics, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications, analgesics, and antispasmodics. Surgical decompression is indicated in persons who experience incapacitating pain, claudication, neurologic deficit, or myelopathy. Concomitant stabilization is reserved for individuals in whom segmental instability is suspected (i.e., patients with spondylolisthesis showing abnormal movement).Show Less