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Questions and Answers – Neurostimulators

Chronic Pain

What is spinal cord stimulation and how does it work?

Spinal cord stimulation (also known as neurostimulation) provides pain relief by disrupting the pain signals traveling between the spinal cord and the brain. It is a proven safe and effective treatment for chronic pain.

One component of spinal cord stimulation is a neurostimulator that:

  • 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).
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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 spinal cord stimulation, you can complete a screening trial so that you can experience the therapy to see if it will work for you.

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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.

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Will spinal cord stimulation completely eliminate my chronic pain?

Typically, people who find the treatment helpful experience effective pain relief. However, spinal cord stimulation 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 spinal cord stimulation.

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

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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.

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How big is a neurostimulator?

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

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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.

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What if I need an MRI?

When you have an implanted electronic device, you have to be careful about MRI scans. The good news is that MRI scans are possible with Medtronic neurostimulation systems for chronic pain,* with proper safeguards. In fact, only Medtronic offers neurostimulation systems that are FDA-approved for MRI scans anywhere in the body, under specific conditions.**

*Excludes Itrel® 3

mr-conditional**Under specific conditions; requires SureScan® MRI implantable neurostimulator and Vectris® SureScan MRI leads.


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.