Spinal Cord Stimulator Implant for Complex Regional Pain Syndrome

Spinal Cord Stimulator Implant for Complex Regional Pain Syndrome

Living with complex regional pain syndrome symptoms can greatly decrease your quality of life. The constant, excruciating pain felt from complex regional pain syndrome makes it hard to focus on the important things in your day, sometimes causing you to be completely immobile. Damaged nerves in a specific limb cause complex regional pain syndrome after injury, or a surgical procedure. Spinal cord stimulators may be able to help you get relief from those damaged nerves sending constant pain signals to your brain.


What is Complex Regional Pain Syndrome?


Complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) is a chronic pain condition that mostly affects one limb, commonly after an injury. Complex regional pain syndrome is thought to be caused by damage to the peripheral and central nervous systems, but the exact cause is unknown. The central nervous system is composed of the brain and spinal cord, while the peripheral nervous system involves all of the nerve signaling from the brain, and spinal cord, to the rest of the body. CRPS causes longer than normal, or excessive pain, changes in skin color, temperature, and/or swelling in the area. There are two kinds of complex regional pain syndrome, labeled as CRPS 1 and CRPS 2. Patients with no known injuries to their nerves are in the CRPS 1 category. When a patient has a diagnosed nerve injury they fall into the CRPS 2 category.

The three types of spinal cord stimulation devices are conventional systems, radiofrequency systems, and rechargeable systems

The treatment is usually the same for both forms of complex regional pain syndrome. CRPS symptoms can vary, and some cases are mild enough they go away on their own.  In the most severe cases, patients may never recover and have a long-term disability. In almost 90% of CPRS cases, the cause is from a previous injury. Complex regional pain syndrome is an abnormal body response to an injury and can magnify the pain. CPRS can affect the immune system of patients with this disorder, increasing the amount of inflammatory properties in the blood and injured area. Some studies suggest this disorder is influenced by genetics. In very rare cases, CPRS can develop in patients without an injury.


What Is a Spinal Cord Stimulator Implant?


Spinal cord stimulation is the most commonly used implantable neurostimulation device. It’s an implant that is inserted surgically to deliver low-voltage electrical currents to the spinal cord, blocking any sensation of pain to the brain. They have been studied, approved, and accepted as a safe pain relief treatment by the FDA. The three types of spinal cord stimulation devices are conventional systems, radiofrequency systems, and rechargeable systems. These devices are implanted for a trial period to make sure you are getting relief from your chronic pain. During this period of time a lead, or leads, are only implanted temporarily. The trial phase is extremely important because if the stimulator is not relieving pain, there is no reason to leave it in. This trial period also helps to determine what setting the stimulator should be on to relieve the patient’s pain. Spinal cord stimulators are not permanent. It is possible to stop treatment, turn them off, and take them out if they are not working.


How Can a Spinal Cord Stimulator Help My Complex Regional Pain Syndrome?


Spinal cord stimulator therapy is based on the gate control theory of pain and has been used as a treatment for many conditions of neuropathic pain, including complex regional pain syndromes. In patients who are good candidates for the treatment, they found significant relief from the pain associated with their complex regional pain syndrome. It is a great treatment method for conditions of the nervous system.

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