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Spinal Cord Stimulators - the 'pacemaker' for chronic pain

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August 12, 2009

The Eon Mini Spinal Cord Stimulator

The Eon Mini Spinal Cord Stimulator

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While nobody's exactly sure how it works, it's been clinically proven over the past 30-40 years that low levels of electrical energy, delivered straight to the nerve fibers in the spinal cord, can disrupt the signals that certain chronic pain conditions send to the brain, and replace them with a much more pleasant tingling sensation. Now, St Jude Medical has received FDA and CE mark approvals for the world's smallest and longest-lasting rechargeable neurostimulator. The Eon Mini is the size of a silver dollar, about 1cm thick (1/2 inch), and weighs only 29g (1oz). It sits under the skin of the buttock or abdomen, and its rechargeable battery should last nearly 10 years. It can be programmed by remote control to treat as many as eight different chronic pain areas and, in doing so, it can get many patients with chronic pain off morphine and back into a semblance of normal life.

Chronic pain is a broad condition that simply refers to pain that continues to be present long after an injury is expected to be healed. For many sufferers, it's a crippling and ever-present fact of life that affects work, relationships, sleep and many other areas. Often, the side effects of pain relief strategies can be as crippling as the pain itself.

The first use of small electrical currents as a human analgesic was reported in 1971 - a Japanese team found that by sending small electrical currents through wires running along the epidural space - the outermost part of the spinal canal - they could disrupt the crippling pain signals being sent back to the brain, and replace them with a much more pleasant buzzing sensation.

Spinal Cord Stimulation (SCS) is not a cure for chronic pain conditions - it's just a pain relief strategy. But it can be extremely effective, reducing the pain by 50 percent or more without the side effects associated with opioid analgesics like morphine. It's viewed as somewhat of a last resort for cases in which patients are unable to achieve a satisfactory quality of life using other pain relief methods.

The Eon Mini represents a step forward in the delivery of SCS pain relief. Its small size allows the main unit to be implanted more deeply and less obtrusively under the skin than larger alternatives, and the 10-year life of its rechargeable battery means that patients need replacement operations far less frequently.

The patient first takes a short trial to see if the system is likely to deliver effective pain relief. This involves the implantation of the electrodes, but not the SCS device. If the doctor deems the results satisfactory and the patient suitable, the Eon Mini is buried under the skin.

The doctor is able to treat up to eight pain areas through 16 different header contacts, allowing the treatment of complex pain patterns throughout the lower body. It's programmed on the operating table with the patient awake and reporting back to the doctor on which areas of pain need the most attention. It's usually an outpatient treatment, and the results are immediate and last as long as the battery.

It's not precisely known how the SCS technique confuses the body's pain receptors - it could be one of a handful of different ways. But it's effective in many cases, and shows very few side effects. More information at www.poweroveryourpain.com.

About the Author
Loz Blain Loz has been one of Gizmag's most versatile contributors since 2007. Joining the team as a motorcycle specialist, he has since covered everything from medical and military technology to aeronautics, music gear and historical artefacts. Since 2010 he's branched out into photography, video and audio production, and he remains the only Gizmag contributor willing to put his name to a sex toy review. A singer by night, he's often on the road with his a cappella band Suade.   All articles by Loz Blain
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6 Comments

Great Article:

Spinal Cord Stimulation (SCS) is a proven high-tech modality to help those who suffer from chronic severe pain.

The American Society of Interventional Pain Physicians developed a large evidence-based practice guideline for the management of chronic spinal pain with interventional techniques. The evidence for spinal cord stimulator in failed back surgery syndrome and complex regional pain syndrome is strong for short-term relief and moderate for long-term relief

(Boswell 2007). A recent study concluded that approximately 50 to 60% of patients with failed back surgery syndrome reported greater than 50% pain relief with the use of spinal cord stimulator at follow-up (Tuner 1995).

Spinal cord stimulator has shown to be very effective in reducing chronic pain from certain conditions. One benefit to SCS is a trial is offered with a temporary device. Only if you receive significant relief (>50%) will you go on to have a permanent SCS system.

For those that it does help, SCS is an innovative treatment that can bring significant relief and improve quality of life. The Eon-Mini system is a top notch system and St. Jude Medical is an amazing company.

As a physician, helping people with SCS is one of the most rewarding things that I do in my practice.

Tory McJunkin, MD

www.ArizonaPain.com

ToryMcJunkin
17th August, 2009 @ 10:34 am PDT

Great presentation about Spinal cord

http://www.wepapers.com/Papers/91714/Spinal_Cord_Anatomy.ppt

Ehud Zamir
15th February, 2010 @ 05:43 am PST

I would like more information on this procedure

Mary Porter
20th November, 2011 @ 01:03 pm PST

I had one of these 'trial' placed on my back at a horrendous cost. almost $8,000! (just for the trial, not even implanted yet.) It was absolutely USELESS! Just another scam to make big bucks. It's nothing more than an internal TENS unit.

sailr
7th March, 2013 @ 03:49 pm PST

It is not a scam. The trial is in me now and is providing me with a lot of relief from my chronic pain. I had spinal fusion to say the use of my legs because my tailbone was never fully connected due to a birth defect that I do not have the top of my tail bone (coccyx). I could not sit for more than 30 minutes without pain and it got worse and worse. I would wake up in unbearable pain in my right leg. Now with the stimulator trial in, I have no pain in my leg and about 50% of the pain in my tail bone is now gone. I had my implant at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester MN. Maybe going to the best clinic on earth makes a difference.

Kirk Roger Tingblad
24th January, 2014 @ 03:58 pm PST

Ive had the scs for over 20 years, first one was implanted from dr. Jay Law in Denver , Colorado, last one from Dr. Barolat, Denver, Co. as well, I have about 90% pain relief, I thank the people form the bottom of my heart for all their hard work over the years for the awesome tech work of the scs which has made my life what it is today .

Cathey Shaw
19th February, 2014 @ 08:45 am PST
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