Pain from damaged nerves can be very difficult to treat with medications alone. Doctors have learned that passing an electrical current through nerves along the painful pathway can generate a soothing feeling which blocks the pain. This is most commonly done for people with spine problems that generate radiating pain in the leg or the arm. However, it can also treat central back pain. In some cases, peripheral nerves can be stimulated, such as in a syndrome of headache called occipital neuralgia.
A trial of spinal cord stimulation is performed in the clinic to see if a positive response is achieved. If so, a separate procedure is performed to implant a small rechargeable battery pacemaker and electrical leads underneath the skin. The patient uses a remote control to change the stimulation as needed.
For more information about spinal cord and peripheral nerve stimulation, call the Interventional Pain Clinic, in Seattle, at 206-223-7582.