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Published on April 17, 2017

Relief from chronic back and neck pain

Stephanie Neuman, MD, Gundersen Pain Medicine

Stephanie Neuman, MD, Gundersen Pain Medicine

Chances are you have one or more patients suffering from chronic back and/or neck pain. That's because pain is one of the top reasons for a patient to see a doctor. Stephanie Neuman, MD, Gundersen Pain Medicine, reports that "about 80 percent of adults will experience neck and/or back pain severe enough to keep them from doing routine activities for at least a week."

If you have a patient with chronic pain who has tried physical therapy, pain medications, rest, injections and/or complementary therapies without success, and surgery is not an option, then an implantable spinal cord stimulator might be the answer.

"The spinal cord stimulator uses safe, low level electrical impulses to block pain signals from reaching the brain," explains Dr. Neuman. "In an outpatient procedure, wire leads are placed through a small incision in the low back into the epidural space near the spinal cord. The leads are attached to a battery, similar to a heart pacemaker, implanted just under the skin."

She goes on to explain, "An external programmer is used to turn the unit on and off, adjust the intensity of the stimulation and switch between programs customized to the patient's pain."

Dr. Neuman reports that the vast majority of Gundersen patients get at least 50 percent relief or more with the spinal cord stimulator. Some patients describe the feeling as a pleasant tingling sensation or they feel no unusual sensations at all.

While spinal cord stimulation holds great promise for many chronic pain sufferers, it's not right for everyone. Spinal cord stimulation is generally recommended only after other treatments have not been successful. To determine if your patient is a candidate for spinal cord stimulation, he or she must undergo a five-day trial period with an external trial stimulator.
Gundersen Pain Clinic specialists can work with you to determine if your patient may be a candidate for spinal cord stimulation. To learn more, contact Dr. Neuman or one of her colleagues at the Pain Clinic via MedLink at (800) 336-5465 or 775-5465 in La Crosse.

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Every day, Gundersen Health System staff deliver great medicine plus a little something extra—we call it Love + Medicine.

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