Skip to content

    Pain Management Health Center

    Font Size

    Electrical Stimulation May Ease Back Pain

    Expert Cautions That Benefits, Risks of Spinal Cord Stimulation Must Be Weighed

    Spinal Cord Stimulation for Chronic Pain continued...

    Scores on the pain interference scale dropped from an average of 6.5 points before the procedure to 5 points at two weeks and six months.

    Spinal cord stimulation seems to help regardless of which type of device was used, Nguyen says. Twenty-two of the devices were made by Medtronic, 27 by Boston Scientific, and two by ANS/St. Jude's.

    They all work slightly differently, and each company claims its brand works best, she says.

    "But those are typically company-sponsored studies. Our study, which has no industry funding, shows there is no difference," Nguyen says.

    Spinal Cord Stimulation for Chronic Pain: Risks, Benefits

    Still, there's a long way to go before anyone can claim spinal cord stimulation definitely works.

    Because there was no comparison group of people getting a sham device, the researchers can't say for sure how much participants' pain might have improved.

    T. Keller Matthews, MD, of the Texas A&M College of Medicine, tells WebMD he's not convinced the drop in pain scores was sufficient to offset the risks and costs of spinal cord stimulation.

    "Do patients judge their improvement in pain sufficient for the risks of the procedure, which include discomfort, infection, and a need for constant monitoring?" he asks.

    Initial implant costs range from $8,500 to $20,000.

    The researchers say future studies of larger numbers of patients are needed to demonstrate the long-term therapeutic and cost-effectiveness of spinal cord stimulation.

    1 | 2

    Today on WebMD

    pain in brain and nerves
    Top causes and how to find relief.
    knee exercise
    8 exercises for less knee pain.
    acupuncture needles in woman's back
    How it helps arthritis, migraines, and dental pain.
    chronic pain
    Get personalized tips to reduce discomfort.
    illustration of nerves in hand
    lumbar spine
    Woman opening window
    Man holding handful of pills
    Woman shopping for vegetables
    Sore feet with high heel shoes
    acupuncture needles in woman's back
    man with a migraine