How is long-term therapy different than the trial?

After your test drive, you and your PeaceHealth Southwest pain specialist will decide whether spinal cord stimulation has helped relieve your chronic pain. If it has, long-term therapy may be right for you.

There will be a waiting period before you are able to begin long-term therapy. This waiting period is important to give your body time to heal from the incisions made for the test drive. After the healing process (which can take from one to four months), you are ready to schedule the long-term therapy procedure with your PeaceHealth Southwest pain specialist.

Some people find the time between the end of their test drive and the beginning of their long-term therapy difficult. It may be challenging to cope with the sudden loss of therapy which helped control pain.

In preparation for long-term therapy, your leads will be implanted again, along with an implantable pulse generator (IPG). This surgery is still considered minor surgery. The IPG will take over sending out pain-masking signals that were given by the the external trial stimulator (ETS) you used during the test drive. The IPG is smaller and lighter than the ETS, and it is easy to recharge.

As with the test drive, you will be awake so that your can give your pain specialist feedback. The location of the incision will be sore durign the healing process. Charging your IPG may be difficult during the healing process due to normal swelling after the surgery and the surgical dressing.

What to expect after surgery

In general, during the first four to six weeks after your surgery:
  • Don't twist, bend, reach, or otherwise place stress on the leads
  • Don't lift more than five pounds, as this could cause uncomfortable stimulation
  • Keep the incision site clean and dry, and check regularly for irritation. Notify your doctor if you develop a fever or experience increased pain at the incision site.
  • Don't raise your arms above your head
  • Check with your doctor before undergoing any dental or medical procedure
Your PeaceHealth Southwest pain specialist may have other instructions for you to follow.

Spinal cord stimulation allows you to take control of your pain and provides you with a simple, cordless lifestyle. Because the system was designed to adapt to your life, your changing pain needs can easily be addressed with new programming. For many people, the hardest part of spinal cord stimulation is the waiting period between the test drive and the permanent implant.