One implantable device can relieve your back pain

Published: Mar. 20, 2017 at 3:42 PM EDT
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Nearly 80% of all Americans will experience back pain at some point in their lives.

For those with serious, chronic pain finding relief can be a challenge.

But now a new, implantable device is bringing quick relief to patients who have tried everything else.

For 77-year-old Deanna Conley doing housework makes her happy. A lifetime of back pain used to make this impossible.

“I was 39 when I had my first back surgery. I’ve had three since then, and two in my neck,” Conley says, “It would get worse and worse and worse and worse until you couldn’t stand. You would have to sit down."

Despite the surgeries, nothing would relieve the pain and pressure.

Doctor Michael Bottros recommended a new spinal cord stimulator, a tiny device that delivers electrical pulses to nerves interrupting pain signals. Doctors place the leads in the spine with a small needle.

“With an implant, we’ll go ahead and anchor those leads in the area that we want them to be in, and then we’ll make another small incision for the battery,” explains Bottros.

By placing the charger pad against her back, the stimulator batteries refresh in about 30 minutes. A remote control allows her to adjust the stimulation, if needed.

“I haven’t used that walker since the day I got this,” says Conley.

While spinal cord stimulators have been used to relieve chronic pain for decades several new versions have been approved by the FDA in the past 18 months.

The newly approved versions no longer create a tingling or buzzing sensation for the patient.


TOPIC: Spinal Stimulators: New &Improved

REPORT: MB #4234

BACKGROUND: Eighty percent of all Americans will have back pain at least once. The causes for this pain are variable since it is associated with the way bones, muscles and ligaments in the back work together. Some risk factors for developing back pain are: mental stress, pregnancy, anxiety, depression, gender (more common in females), age (more common in older adults), obesity, smoking, and strenuous physical exercise or work. Back pain can vary from mild to moderate, or chronic.

(Source: &

TREATMENTS: The treatments for back pain will vary depending on the severity of the pain and the overall health and age of the patient. If the pain is mild or moderate, it will most likely heal by itself. Most of the time, medications like acetaminophen, aspirin and ibuprofen are used to reduce moderate back pain. When the pain is chronic, the treatments usually recommended by a doctor are:

* Behavioral changes (changing how you exercise, relax and sleep)

* Exercise (recommended by the doctor or physical therapist)

* Medications (like acetaminophen or aspirins, creams, NSAIDs drugs, muscle relaxants or antidepressants)

* Injections (of steroids or numbing shots)

* Alternative medical treatments (for example, acupuncture, acupressure or transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation)

* Surgery


SPINAL STIMULATOR: Spinal cord stimulators are available as a treatment for patients that can’t find relieve from chronic back pain. Spinal cord stimulators deliver electrical pulses to nerves that interrupt pain signals. In order to receive one, a trial is performed first. In the trial, leads are placed in an epidural space with a needle. The needle is then removed, and patients get to try it for several days. If patients have some relief then, then the stimulator may be implanted. Doctors make two small incisions; one to anchor the lead, and the other for a small battery. Patients that suffer from fibromyalgia, multiple sclerosis or total body pain are not good candidates for this procedure. Those who can benefit the most from spinal cord stimulators are those who suffer from stenosis, sciatica or failed back surgery syndrome, where they’ve had the surgery already, but unfortunately, it isn’t providing any relief.

(Source: Dr. Michael Bottros)