Questions and Answers – Neurostimulators

What is neurostimulation and how does it work?

Neurostimulation therapy interrupts pain signals before they reach your brain. It is a proven safe and effective treatment for chronic pain.

A neurostimulator:

  • Is a device similar to a pacemaker
  • Is surgically implanted under the skin, typically in your abdomen or upper buttocks
  • Delivers mild electrical impulses to an area near your spine through one or more leads (insulated medical wires). The electrical impulses cause a tingling sensation in the area of your back and leg pain. So, instead of feeling pain, you'll feel a tingling sensation.

Is it right for me?

Talk to your doctor to determine what kinds of pain treatments would work for you. The choice of treatment depends on the type of pain, how severe it is, and how you respond to your pain treatment. If your doctor thinks you are a good candidate for neurostimulation, you can complete a neurostimulation screening test so that you can experience the therapy to see if it will work for you.

Is neurostimulation new?

No. Medtronic neurostimulation systems have been on the market for more than 30 years and have helped thousands of people worldwide manage their chronic pain and enhance their lives.

How does neurostimulation feel?

The sensation felt from neurostimulation varies from person to person, but most people report a mild tingling sensation in the area of their pain.

Will neurostimulation completely eliminate my chronic pain?

Typically, people who find the treatment helpful experience significant and sustained reduction in leg and back pain.1 However, neurostimulation does not eliminate the source of the pain, so the amount of pain reduction varies from person to person.

It is important that you manage your expectations of neurostimulation therapy.

Not everyone responds to neurostimulation the same way and your experience may vary. To understand the benefits and risks of neurostimulation therapy, please discuss them with your doctor.

Will the neurostimulation system eliminate other sources of pain?

Your neurostimulation system will not provide relief from other types of pain such as headaches, stomachaches, fractures, etc.

How big is a neurostimulator?

The device is about the size of a stopwatch. Exact dimensions and weights vary by model.

What is the surgery like?

The surgery to implant the neurostimulation system takes approximately 1 to 3 hours and may require a brief hospital stay.


  1. Kumar K, Taylor RS, Jacques L, et al. The Effects of Spinal Cord Stimulation in Neuropathic Pain Are Sustained. Neurosurgery. 2008;63(4):762-770.

Information on this site should not be used as a substitute for talking with your doctor. Always talk with your doctor about diagnosis and treatment information.

Last updated: 18 Feb 2013

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