Graphic shows how a spinal cord stimulator works.


Spinal cord stimulators

By Duncan Mil

November 27, 2018 - A spinal cord stimulator is a device designed to help patients who are trying to combat chronic pain. A small pulse generator sends signals to the spinal cord, masking the pain messages travelling to the brain.

The American Chronic Pain Association found that one in three Americans suffers from chronic pain, pain that persists for months and sometimes years. Chronic pain costs as much as $635 billion yearly, more than the cost of cancer, heart disease or diabetes. Opioid painkillers prescribed for chronic pain are highly addictive and result in 115 overdose deaths in the U.S. every day. Chronic pain also affects one in five Europeans -- some 100 million people.

Spinal cord stimulation (SCS), a U.S. Food and Drug Administration-approved (FDA), drug-free treatment option has helped patients manage their chronic pain without addictive medication for over four decades.

However, an Associated Press report on spinal stimulators -- part of a nearly year-long joint investigation of the US$5.9 billion global medical devices industry -- found that that the FDA had 78,172 injury reports between 2008 and 2017, equating to a 13 per cent chance of injury.

PUBLISHED: 27/11/2018; STORY: Graphic News
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