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 Spinal Cord Stimulation Program

Spinal cord stimulation (SCS) involves electrical stimulation of the spinal cord to interrupt pain signals from the spinal cord to the brain.

It is a proven safe and effective therapeutic approach for managing chronic pain  of the neck, back, arms and legs which may occur following spinal surgery.

What Is Spinal Cord Stimulation?


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Spinal cord stimulation uses a medical device similar to a pacemaker, which is placed beside the spinal cord to deliver mild electrical impulses to the spinal cord before pain signals arrive. Instead of pain, patients feel a tingling sensation from the neurostimulation in areas where the pain is felt.

Overall benefits of SCS may include:

  • Significant and sustained reduction in back and leg pain
  • Improved ability to function and participate in activities of daily living
  • Less oral pain medications
  • Reversible and nondestructive, since the therapy can be turned off or surgically removed
  • Ability to adjust the therapy based on pain level
  • With improvements in a person’s pain, the potential ability to participate in other forms of therapy to better help manage the pain

Our Patients

  • Failed Back Syndrome (FBS) – FBS is chronic pain after back surgery, which has not achieved the desired result.
  • Post-laminectomy pain – This term refers to persistent pain following a laminectomy, which is a type of back surgery performed to remove part of the vertebrae to reduce pressure on the spinal cord or spinal nerve roots. 
  • Peripheral neuropathy – Damage to a nerve or nerve group of the central nervous system is a condition known as peripheral neuropathy. There are more than 100 different types of peripheral neuropathies.
  • Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS) – A nerve disorder, CRPS occurs after an injury to a nerve or tissue resulting in intense pain in the affected area.

How We Determine if SCS Therapy Is the Right Treatment

The treatment option that will work best for you depends on your type of pain, how severe it is, and how you respond to pain treatment.

It might be right for you if:

  • Other treatment options have failed to adequately provide pain relief\
  • Your doctor understands what is causing your chronic pain
  • Further traditional surgeries are not recommended
  • You don’t have a serious, untreated dependence on pain medication
  • You have passed a psychological evaluation
  • You don’t have medical issues that would make surgery difficult
  • You have had a successful neurostimulation screening test

Below are additional steps involved in determining if you are a candidate for SCS:

  • You receive a detailed evaluation by our neurosurgeon, physical medicine and rehabilitation physician and our pain management specialists to assess the disease, symptoms, progression and previous treatments.
  • You have spinal cord imaging performed and are evaluated by a neuropsychologist. The neuropsychological testing helps in understanding your cognitive (thinking, memory, concentration, attention) status and provides a baseline for the team to monitor you over time. It also ensures that spinal cord stimulation is the appropriate therapy for you.
  • You and your family meet with Ohio State’s team for a detailed discussion about surgery goals, expectations, benefits and side effects. 
  • Once these evaluations are completed, your case is reviewed at a patient management conference. The team makes a final recommendation about your care. This may include scheduling surgery and other therapies such as further medication adjustments and an individual rehabilitation program

Our team-oriented approach applies to all aspects of your care through the initial evaluation, surgery, postoperative care and rehabilitation. Our goal is to work closely with you, family members, caregivers and your referring physicians to develop a comprehensive and holistic care plan.

Why Choose The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center?

There are many reasons to choose our spinal cord stimulation program:

  • Ohio State is ranked among America's Best Hospitals by U.S.News & World Report for neurology and neurosurgery.
  • Our successful SCS program is due, in part, to the strong multidisciplinary teamwork and collaboration among our neurosurgeons, psychiatrists and psychologists, physical medicine and rehabilitation specialists, as well as our nurses, physician assistants and patient coordinators. This teamwork and our comprehensive evaluations ensure optimal selection of surgical candidates and enable us to make the best choices for patient outcomes. 
  • Ohio State is leading research with SCS to further improve treatment for other conditions.

Contact Us

Your physician and other care providers may be able to help determine if you would benefit from a referral to our Center for Neuromodulation. Please contact your current healthcare provider for an initial evaluation.

If you need further assistance or would like to learn more about spinal cord stimulation, please contact the Center for Neuromodulation patient coordinator at 855-255-0550.

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