Close to 100 million people suffer from chronic pain. In the past doctors have tried to stop the pain with medications with only limited positive results, but now for many people relief is being found in a device called a Pacemaker for Pain.
These little devices look like pacemakers to jump start the heart and they act in much the same way but in this case it's to get rid of pain.
Dr. Aaron Shores is a pain specialist and says, "Much like the cardiac pace-maker controls the heart rate through electrical impulses, spinal cord stimulation kind of changes the pain before it reaches the brain.”
Although spinal cord stimulation has close to a 70 percent success rate, Dr. Shores says it's not for just anyone in pain.
“Its recent use has been in the treatment of chronic angina for patients who for a variety of reasons are no longer meeting satisfactory treatment with their medications. They're not surgical candidates and they continue to have frequent visits to the emergency room because of on-going chest pain."
The procedure itself is simple, much like a pacemaker is implanted in the body just under the skin. Electrodes placed in the space over the spinal cord are then connected to the power source.
The electrodes send electrical impulses which interrupt pain signals sent to the brain, replacing the painful areas with a more pleasant sensation, and once implanted the electrical pulses can be customized for individual needs with the use of a remote control device.
The patient has total control over the device. They can turn it on and off when they like. They can use it as often as they like or as infrequently as they like.
Dr. Shores says it can be a long-term solution. Unfortunately with coronary artery disease it often changes and becomes difficult to control.
“But certainly it does seem to be very successful in improving quality of life and decreasing trips to ER in helping to control their pain."
Dr. Shores says the good thing about this procedure is that it is reversible; it can be taken out at any time.