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Chronic Pain: New Research, New Treatments

WebMD talks to Scott M. Fishman, MD, president of the American Pain Foundation

Q: So many people have back pain. What's new in this area? continued...

I'm especially excited about spinal cord stimulation. An electrode, much like a pacemaker, is threaded into the spine and uses the "language" of the nerve (the electrical signals nerves use to communicate) to jam the pain signal. This technique works very well for pain from back surgery when nerves have been injured during the procedure.

The caveat is that spinal cord surgery stimulation is for only a minority of patients, but it can be very successful. After a useful stimulation treatment, my patients say good-bye and we don't see them again until they need adjustments to the stimulation intensity or a new battery. They send me a Christmas card.

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Reviewed on June 25, 2008

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