What Is a Neurostimulator?


A neurostimulator is a surgically placed device about the size of a stopwatch. It delivers mild electrical signals to the epidural space near your spine through one or more thin wires, called leads. The electrical signals cause a tingling sensation in the area of your chronic pain.

How It Works

Neurostimulation provides pain relief by blocking the pain messages before they reach the brain. The neurostimulator sends out mild electrical impulses that reach the brain faster than the pain signal can arrive. In other words, it outsmarts your pain. Instead of pain, you feel a tingling sensation.

You can adjust the strength and location of stimulation using a handheld programmer. For example, you can regulate different levels of stimulation at different times of the day or for various activities – such as walking, sleeping, or sitting. If your neurostimulator features AdaptiveStim® technology, then it will automatically adjust stimulation when you are upright (sitting or standing), lying down, or active while in an upright position.

About the Neurostimulation System

A complete neurostimulation system includes several components:

  • Neurostimulator – The device that generates the electrical impulses (usually placed under the skin in your abdomen or upper buttock)
  • Leads – Thin, insulated medical wires that deliver electrical pulses to the epidural space near the spine
  • Physician’s programmer – A computer at your doctor’s office that lets your doctor adjust the neurostimulation system and its settings
  • Patient’s programmer – A handheld device you can use at home to customize the stimulation (within the settings your doctor has selected)

The neurostimulation system does not make any noise. It may be felt as a small bump under your skin, but does not normally show through your clothes.

Advantages Over Other Therapies

Neurostimulation provides advantages over other therapies for chronic pain:

  • Unlike other chronic pain treatments or surgeries, you can experience neurostimulation and see if it relieves your pain before committing to the long-term therapy
  • A screening test serves as a temporary evaluation period. The screening test is much like an injection, but instead of medication being placed into the epidural space, leads are positioned and connected to an external neurostimulator (battery pack)
  • It does not have to be a permanent procedure. The neurostimulator can be surgically removed if you do not like it or if you decide to pursue a different treatment
  • Unlike oral medications that circulate throughout your entire body, neurostimulation targets the precise area where you are feeling pain
  • A neurostimulator may provide relief when other treatments – like medications or injections – have not

Our Products

Medtronic offers a variety of neurostimulation systems with different features tailored for different chronic pain symptoms. If you are a candidate for neurostimulation, your doctor can work with you to determine if Medtronic products, such as RestoreSensor®, RestoreUltra®, RestoreAdvanced®, or PrimeAdvanced®, are possible pain treatment options for you. RestoreSensor is the world’s first neurostimulator to automatically adjust stimulation when you change your position.

Find out why Medtronic is the right choice

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: 9 Jul 2013

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