Spinal Cord Stimulation

Spinal Cord Stimulation

In spinal cord stimulation (SCS), mild electric currents applied to the spinal cord through small medical devices modulate pain signals and at some settings replace the pain sensation with a mild tingling known as paraesthesia. Spinal cord stimulation involves placing a series of electrical contacts in the epidural space in the spine near the region that supplies nerves to the painful area. The procedure is a minimally invasive ambulatory surgical technique. Usually, a patient will try a temporary externalized SCS system, and if pain is reduced by at least 50%, the patient returns to receive an implanted system.

Please pay close attention to the following information/instructions:

If you are currently on antibiotics or being treated for an infection, please call the office prior to your injection appointment.


You have been scheduled for a Spinal Cord Stimulator Trial which is useful to treat pain. This is a two-stage procedure. The first stage is the trial stage and does not involve any surgery. Through a specialized needle, one or two wires are placed in the epidural space. These wires are attached to an external generator which the patient controls. The wires may be left in place for up to 5-7 days. During this phase, the patient engages in relatively normal activity and gauges the effectiveness of the device. If it is successful and the patient is satisfied by the degree of pain relief, the second stage involves referring you to a neurologist who will be placing the permanent device and wires under the skin, tunneling the wires to the location of the battery, and placement of the battery just under the skin. Each procedure can take up to 1-2 hours.

You will be receiving an injection of local anesthetic, corticosteroids, and a small amount of contrast dye. Please inform us if you have had any previous adverse reactions to the above-listed medications.

The local anesthetic effect can last for several hours after your injection, and you may experience temporary numbness or weakness. We advise that you refrain from driving the day of your procedure. Please bring a driver to your appointment, they must stay in the facility for the duration of the procedure.

MODERATE SEDATION: On the day of your appointment, we may ask you to refrain from eating or drinking 6 hours prior to your appointment time if you are receiving sedation. You may eat and drink immediately following your injection. If you take routine medications, you may take these on the day of your injection as scheduled with a small sip of water.

NO SEDATION: Please refrain from having a large meal prior to your appointment. You may have light food and/or beverages. You may eat and drink immediately following your injection. If you take routine medications, you may take these on the day of your injection as scheduled.

If you have anxiety about your scheduled office procedure and prefer to have a light sedative prescribed to take before your appointment, please notify our office at least 24 hours in advance. IV sedatives are available if your procedure is scheduled at Apex Surgical Center or Specialty Surgery Center of CNY.

If you are on any blood thinning medications (Plavix®, Coumadin®, Aggrenox®, Lovenox®, Xarelto®, aspirin), please notify our office so that we may give you specific instructions about the length of time you need to discontinue these medications.


The trial lasts for 5 days and then you will return to clinic. It is important to actually “test drive” the device – do your daily activities and see how it affects your overall pain. Please continue all pain medications exactly as prescribed. When you return to clinic we simply remove the electrodes and place a small bandaid over the lower back. If you feel at least a 50% decrease in your normal pain as well as an improvement in function, then the trial is considered successful and you have the option to proceed to permanent placement.

Discomfort – the surgical procedure itself may cause some pain. Continue taking your pain medications as prescribed. You may use ice packs and over the counter pain relief medications for the short term pain.

The Spinal Cord Stimulator treatments are relatively safe and low-risk procedure. However, some people may experience certain side effects and/or complications from this treatment. It is advised to discuss the potential risk of developing any adverse reactions or side effects of SCS with a doctor prior to this treatment.

Please feel free to make an appointment to discuss with your Doctor if you are a candidate for these services or contact one of our care representatives with questions at 315-451-5400.

Please play video for a more detailed understanding for what to expect during the procedure.