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Spinal Cord Stimulator Helps Treat Chronic Pain

By HospiMedica International staff writers
Posted on 12 Feb 2019
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Image: A new implanted device blocks pain signals from reaching the brain (Photo courtesy of Boston Scientific).
Image: A new implanted device blocks pain signals from reaching the brain (Photo courtesy of Boston Scientific).
A new spinal cord stimulator (SCS) system combines paraesthesia and sub-perception therapy to treat chronic and debilitating pain.

The Boston Scientific (Natick, MA, USA) Spectra WaveWriter is an implanted SCS system designed to help in the management of chronic obdurate pain of the trunk and/or limbs, including unilateral or bilateral pain associated with failed back surgery syndrome, intractable lower back and leg pain, complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS), radicular pain syndrome, and radiculopathies resulting in secondary pain, such as failed back surgery, a herniated disc, degenerative disc disease (DDD), and others.

The two main components of the system are the signal generator, implanted under the skin, which sends electrical stimulation signals to the spinal cord through an insulated lead wire, and a hand-held remote control that allows the patient to control it. The signal generator is programmed to produce electrical signals that can block pain signals traveling to the patient's brain through a combination of novel sub-perception algorithms and waveform automation. Studies have shown an improvement in pain of 29.2-100% for CRPS patients, and 37-77% for those with back and leg pain due to surgery-associated conditions.

“We are introducing industry-leading SCS technology to help provide patients with lasting relief from chronic pain,” said Maulik Nanavaty, president and senior vice president of neuromodulation at Boston Scientific. “We are committed to investing in research and expanding treatment options for chronic pain by identifying new, non-opioid solutions for the millions of people suffering from this debilitating condition.”

“Pain is very personal, and everyone experiences it differently. Pain also changes over time, which for chronic pain patients means that their bodies may become accustomed to treatment and its effectiveness declines,” said Vivek Mehta, a consultant in pain medicine at Queen Mary, University of London (QMUL; United Kingdom). “The Spectra WaveWriter SCS system allows us to combine multiple treatment options in one single device, intended to give patients truly personalized therapy that evolves just as their pain does to provide lasting relief.”

SCS works by sending electrical impulses to the spinal cord, masking the pain signals travelling to the brain. These electrical impulses can vary in frequency, pulse width, and amplitude, providing pain relief with a light tingling sensation known as paraesthesia-based therapy or with sub-perception therapy that works without sensation.

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