CHICAGO April 22, 2008 Help is on the way for patients who have undergone back surgery but who continue to suffer from chronic pain in their backs and legs, thanks to a novel technology pioneered by two Chicago-area pain management specialists.
Called a hybrid technique, the procedure combines an implanted electronic device called a dorsal column (spinal cord) stimulator with a newer technology known as peripheral nerve field stimulation (PNFS). This latest development in pain management gives patients drug-free relief from the severe, chronic back and leg pain of failed back surgery syndrome (FBSS), a condition suffered by nearly half of all spine surgery patients.
Since 1968, physicians have used the dorsal column stimulator to control the leg pain common among patients with FBSS, but it does little to relieve back pain, explains Eugene G. Lipov, MD, Director of Pain Research at the Northwest Community Hospital, Arlington Heights, Ill. Recent studies have shown that peripheral nerve field stimulation is very effective in relieving back pain. This is what led us to combine these two technologies. Patients can have the best of both worlds: relief from leg and back pain they cant get even with the strongest pain medications.
Narcotics, such as codeine and morphine, dont work well on nerve pain, which tends to be opiate-resistant. Implantable dorsal column stimulators stop pain signals from reaching the brain. Peripheral nerve field stimulation is a newer technology that is more focused on shutting off pain signals further away from the spinal column. Used together, the dorsal column stimulator and peripheral nerve field stimulation effectively block the bodys pain signals from the legs and back to the brain.
Performed as an outpatient procedure, the hybrid stimulator is implanted subcutaneously (under the skin) in the abdominal wall, side of the back, or in the upper hip area. It is approximately the size of a smal
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