Spinal cord stimulators cannot be used by patients with cardiac pacemakers or conditions preventing the implantation procedure, who are dependent on pain medication or who have pain from unidentified sources, according to Mayfield Clinic. Those with depression or other psychiatric conditions are also not good candidates for spinal cord stimulation.
Spinal cord stimulation is a promising treatment that stimulates the spinal nerves using low-voltage to block the feeling of pain. It is sometimes used to treat chronic sciatica that is caused by degenerative spinal stenosis, nerve damage or arthritis, according to Mayfield Clinic. It is also sometimes used to treat failed back surgery syndrome, complex regional pain syndrome and arachnoiditis, which is a painful condition caused by the scarring and inflammation of the protective layers of the spinal nerve known as the meninges.
Successful candidates for spinal cord stimulation have experienced negative outcomes from conservative therapies and would not benefit from additional types of surgeries to correct the issue causing pain, notes Mayfield Clinic. Candidates should also have had a successful trial stimulation prior to implantation. The trial stimulation involves the insertion of a trial lead using a local anesthetic and usually lasts for three to five days. Patients who experience a 50 percent improvement in pain may be scheduled for the actual implantation surgery.