A spinal cord stimulator is a device that is implanted to stimulate nerves close to the spinal cord. This stimulation is thought to interrupt the transmission of the pain impulse, reducing or eliminating severe pain. The system consists of electrical leads, which are implanted in the spine, and a transmitter. The transmitter looks like a pacemaker and is placed under the skin in the patient's abdomen.
Spinal cord stimulators are often helpful for patients with severe, unremitting pain, which cannot be relieved by other methods. Patients suffering from "failed back syndrome" are often good candidates for this procedure, especially if they have persistent leg pain.
Your physician will carefully review your history and diagnostic tests to determine whether the stimulator is likely to help you. A temporary stimulator (the trial stimulator) is usually placed prior to the permanent implantation of the system to find out whether it will be helpful in controlling the pain.