Spinal Cord Stimulation
The Center for Neuromodulation at Mount Sinai offers spinal cord stimulation to treat chronic pain syndromes such as post-surgical failed back syndrome and complex regional pain syndromes (CRPS) such as reflex sympathetic dystrophy or causalgia from nerve damage.
Our neurosurgeons also use the advanced procedure to also treat peripheral neuropathy, which can be caused by blood flow limitations (ischemia) to the lower extremities or diabetes.
How does Spinal Cord Stimulation work?
The procedure is done on an outpatient basis and involves implanting a small device in the epidural space over the spinal cord that emits mild electrical pulses that stimulate the spinal cord directly. “These pulses intercept and modulate the electrical activity of the pain processing centers of the spinal cord,” says Dr. Brian Kopell, Director of the Center for Neuromodulation. The idea is to alter the signals currently being sent to the brain that give rise to the pain phenomenon, says Kopell.
Before a permanent electrode device is placed, a temporary electrode is place to determine the patient’s response. If that response is positive, a permanent spinal cord stimulator is implanted. This operates on batteries that typically last for about 10 years. At the 10 year mark, says Dr. Kopell, approximately 50 percent of patients report good results. The patient works with her or his neurologist to determine the parameters of the electrical pulses—amplitude, pulse width and frequency—that work best to control the pain.
Who is a candidate for this procedure?
For patients to become candidates for spinal cord stimulation, they must undergo psychological testing. Patients must also have failed standard medical treatments as spinal cord stimulation is not considered a frontline treatment due to the cost and invasive nature of the procedure.
Center for Neuromodulation
5 East 98th Street
New York, NY 10029