Implantable nerve stimulation is a well-accepted procedure, involving the implantation of small, FDA-approved devices, for the control of refractory (resistant), severe chronic pain.

The implantable stimulators are manufactured by several well-established companies, including Abbott Labs (St. Jude Medical), Boston Scientific, and Medtronic, amongst others. They are fully FDA- approved devices that have been used for over 50 years now, with their effectiveness being confirmed by hundreds of peer-reviewed medical research publications.

These devices have been demonstrated to control pain for a wide variety of chronic conditions, including:

  • Chronic Back Pain. The pain may be due to injury, “failed back surgery”, pinched nerves (radiculopathy), arthritis, and other painful conditions.
  • Chronic Neck Pain
  • Chronic Pain in the Arms or Legs
  • Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (RSD)
  • Nerve Injury
  • Painful Diabetic Neuropathy

Generally, to be considered for “candidacy” for the procedure, your pain problem should be:

  • Chronic — meaning daily for over 6 months duration
  • Moderately Severe to Severe
  • Refractory. Your pain does not respond adequately to other means of treatment. Generally, to be considered for a SCS patients will have been through a lengthy course of treatment that may include medications, physical therapy, and possibly interventional procedures such as epidural injections or other nerve blocks.

The stimulating unit consists of a small (about the size of a pacemaker) battery unit that is commonly placed just under the skin over the lower back/gluteal region. From this unit, two (commonly) very thin wires are passed to areas in the low back that are involved with the chronic pain. It is completely under the skin, and once it heals up the patient is generally not even aware that it is there (other than the fact that the pain is now under good control). When the unit is on, the patient experiences a mild, comfortable tingling sensation over the areas that were painful, and by several mechanisms, this may ease the pain greatly (50 to >90%). In addition to seeing great relief in the pain, our patients generally report either requiring no other pain medicines or a greatly reduced amount of other meds. Further, they are enjoying getting back to normal lifestyles with their friends, family, and work.

The battery of the stimulator lasts at least 5 years, and if needed beyond that it is a simple 15-minute outpatient procedure to replace the battery.

One of the many great things about an implanted stimulator is the ability to actually test the stimulator before you have the actual implant. Yes, this is one of the few times in medicine, where you can actually test a therapeutic surgical procedure to make sure that it works before you actually have the procedure.

All in all, the Vega Procedure and other forms of implantable neurostimulation have already controlled the pain and restored the lives of thousands of patients. To learn more about the procedure we invited you to view our On-Demand Webinar, and then to schedule a complimentary (FREE) appointment with one of our St. Jude Pain Centers’ Specialists.