Spinal Cord Stimulator (SCS)

Spinal Cord Stimulation (SCS) alters the experience of pain by sending impulses to the spinal cord that compete with pain signals.  As a result, the pain messages that your body sends to the brain are blocked or modified.

What is Spinal Cord Stimulator?

A spinal cord stimulator system is made of four parts:

  1. Impulse Generator (IPG): this is a computer that is roughly the size of a matchbox that controls the impulses delivered to the spinal cord.  It is implanted under the skin and has an inbuilt battery.
  2. An electrode: this sits in the epidural space and delivers very small and precise currents to the spinal cord.
  3. A hand-held controller: this is used to turn the system on and off, adjust the type of stimulation, location of stimulation and level of stimulation.
  4. A hand-held charger: some IPGs are rechargeable and require regular charging to maintain stimulation.

Why would someone need SCS?

Spinal cord stimulation is most commonly used for leg, back and arm pain that has not responded to spinal surgery.  It can also be used to treat back pain that is not suitable for spinal surgery. Other conditions that may also respond to SCS include complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS), pain following nerve injury, refractory gain, post-herpetic neuralgia and peripheral vascular disease.

If your pain specialist decides that this treatment is suitable for your condition, a comprehensive trial is undertaken to determine if SCS will be helpful to you. There are many different spinal cord stimulator devices available for the management of chronic pain. Your pain specialist will determine the appropriate spinal cord stimulator for you, by assessing you independently and using up-to-date clinical research and current best practice.

The Timeline

After administering local anesthetic, a specialized needle is used to enter the epidural space which lies underneath the bones of the vertebrae. A thin stimulator lead (electrode) is then advanced in the epidural space to a specific level of the spine. When the stimulator is positioned correctly, it will be secured to the skin and covered with a dressing. This will remain in place for the duration of the trial. The trial period and procedure takes place at Spine Team Spokane.

Throughout the trial period different modes of stimulation may be used to confirm the effectiveness of this treatment in your specific case. You will usually be discharged home the day following insertion of the trial lead, but will require follow up with your pain specialist at Spine Team throughout the trial periods of 7-10 days.

Throughout the trial period it is important that you follow the restrictions given to you by the device representative and your Spine Team pain specialist. It is also important that you complete the pain diary to determine the effectiveness of the SCS over the course of the trial period.

At the completion of the trial, the lead will be removed, and a decision will be made whether to proceed to a permanent implant which will be implanted at Kootenai Hospital.

How is a permanent implant performed?

You will be admitted to Kootenai Hospital the day of the procedure. An anesthetist will be present to give you sedation. The stimulator leads (electrodes) are again inserted via a specialized needle. Once correct positioning is confirmed the leads are secured under the skin.

A small impulse generator/battery (IPG) is then implanted under the skin at a site chosen by you and your doctor. You will usually remain in hospital for one to two nights before being discharged home.

You will then return to Spine Team 1 week post procedure for programming by the device company technician. This is will allow time for your surgical sites to heal and surgical pain to subside. A technician from the SCS device company will work with your doctor to program the stimulator to give you as much relief as possible.


Click here to learn more about Nevro's Spinal Cord Stimulator.


Dr. Greg Crisp, MD

Meet The Doctor

Meet The Doctor

Dr. Greg Crisp

Patient Testimonials

  • The care they give is amazing. The front desk gals are so friendly and helpful assisting with anything I've asked. My PA Nathan is very knowledgeable, personable and has been amazing in assisting me with my pain issue's along with other problems. I would and do recommend them to my friends and family.

    SanDee Rhett Avatar SanDee Rhett
    February 16, 2024

    I recently had a visit and hip injection by Dr. Sneddon. He is brilliant. Very nice man who figured out a problem I didn't even know I had. Would recommend to anyone. The team is also very pleasant and professional.

    Becky Leighton Avatar Becky Leighton
    February 5, 2024

    Always helpful and great to see. Once again they came through for me with amazing help! I couldn't leave another 5 star review so I would like to add and just let everyone know how amazing Emily M. and Melissa F. are! The reception are always so friendly and helpful, everyone I've had contact with have always been incredible and positive and make every visit great! I referring to the North side location, as I've never been to the other one, they know how to hire the right people!

    Brandon K Avatar Brandon K
    January 19, 2024
  • I have been a patient with Spine Team for about the last two years and have to say they are number one! Dr. Emily has been a great listener and really pays special attention to my needs also the other team members Angel and Laicy do a fine job of keeping my appointments on time and checking me in. Life is a journey and not a destination and with the help Spine Team North my quality of life has improved greatly.

    ryan kunz Avatar ryan kunz
    December 19, 2023

    I've been very impressed with the care Emily and her MA Laicy has given me. From the beginning Emily has done everything that she can to see that I go in the right direction for the pain that I've been in. I'm so grateful for my knee injections. I'm starting to feel like a normal person. I will continue recommending Spine Team.

    Kathleen Hartshorn Avatar Kathleen Hartshorn
    November 19, 2023

    Kellie is a knowledgeable and effective therapist for physical pain. She not only diminishes alot of the pain at the visit but she has so much information on any specific part of my body that we are working on at the time that I get educated which helps me understand. She is a positive person. She has an upbeat and outgoing personality. I always look forward to seeing her. She is definitely a bright spot in my day! And...my pain is always better the day she treats me. Win -win.

    Jillybean Avatar Jillybean
    November 19, 2023
  • I want to comment on my visits to see Emily and Laicy at the north office; they are so professional and caring! I feel so comfortable with talking to them about the issues I may have at the time and know that when I leave my appointment that we have gone over everything with answers. It is a great feeling that when you walk in the receptionist are so kind and easy going and to go to your appointment and you have the most upbeat and professional healthcare; it just makes your day!

    Brenda B Kastelein Avatar Brenda B Kastelein
    November 19, 2023

    I have have been going to Spine Team for 2 1/2 years. I cannot say enough good things about Emily and Laicy. They know me know my case and are so helpful with anything I need. Even though I have moved farther south in Idaho I will still continue to keep my care with them Thank you

    Candi Rosco Avatar Candi Rosco
    November 19, 2023

    Emily and Laicy @ Spokane Spine Team are great!! All the staff are wonderful! I love working with Emily. She is such a caring and compassionate Doctor and is always trying to find ways to get rid of my pain or make it more manageable. And great big THANK YOU to everyone, especially Emily, at Spokane Spine Team, for all that you do for everyone!! 😊❤️

    November 19, 2023

Additional Questions?

Call 509.363.3100 and ask about our Spinal Cord Stimulator Procedure today!