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All New Device for Spine Stimulation Provides Pain Relief

A latest study has revealed that the high-frequency therapy is helpful in blocking pain signals better as compared to treatment procedures involving low-frequency. The new high-frequency electrical stimulation of the spinal cord may bring significant relief to severe chronic back pain in a more effective way than conventional stimulation with low-frequency.

The Senza system, a new device was seen helpful in reducing leg and back pain scores in initial testing. The pain was reduced by at least half in around 80 per cent of patients. 76 per cent of the patients with chronic back pain experienced reduced pain after two years. The researchers also found that significant improvement was visible in 73 per cent of patients with chronic leg pain.

The lead researcher for the study, Dr. Leonardo Kapural of the Center for Clinical Research and Carolina’s Pain Institute (Winston-Salem, N.C.) found that the use of low-frequency stimulation for leg and back pain was relatively successful with 50 percent of patients. These patients experienced 50 percent of their pain relieved.

As per the information on Senza website, mild electrical stimulation is delivered to the nerves in the spinal cord with the help of Senza and other spinal cord stimulators. This facilitates disruption of pain signals to the brain. Electrodes with lead wires are placed near the spinal cord. Thereafter, a device containing batteries is implanted under the skin.

Low-frequency devices may cause a persistent tingling across the back and legs of patients. The tingling may increase in intensity to shock people. Hence, it is strictly avoided when driving or sleeping. The intensity increases when patients lie down. However, the new system uses very high-frequency spinal stimulation, which cannot be felt by people. This also suppresses the nerves to increase pain signals travelling to the brain.

This new study reported follow-up for two years as compare to a Senza system with traditional stimulation. The findings by researchers revealed that around 76.5 per cent of the patients with back pain using the Senza system experienced substantial pain relief when compared to 49 per cent of those using low-frequency stimulation.

The findings revealed that around 73% of those with leg pain experienced relief while using the Senza system when compared to 49 per cent of those using low-frequency stimulation.

The system scored 5 points on a scale of 0 to 10 for reducing back pain. This is 2 points higher as compared to an average of 3 points for traditional stimulation. Additionally, about 60 percent of patients were “very satisfied” with this system when compared to 40 percent with conventional stimulation.

The all new Senza systemsare presently available on the market. The total cost of the device and implantation surgery is about $30,000. This is same as traditional spinal stimulation. The best part is that costs are covered by most insurance companies including Medicare.

Around 3% of patients experienced side effects like mild irritation at the site of the implant and a shift in lead wires which needs to be repositioned. This latest system ensures better pain relief sans tingling sensation associated with traditional spinal nerve stimulation.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved new Senza system in May 2015. The results of study were published in the journal Neurosurgery for November issue. According to the chief of neurosurgery at Long Island Jewish Medical Center (New Hyde Park, N.Y), Dr. Mark Eisenberg, he has been using high frequency for patients more frequently. He also added that Senza system is not the only high-frequency device available on the market.

About 171 patients (average age 55) were randomly assigned by a Kapural and his colleagues for the study. These patients suffered from moderate-to-severe back and leg pain for around 14 years. The condition did not respond to other treatments including:

  • Traditional spinal cord stimulation
  • Spinal cord stimulation with the Senza system

Nearly nine out of 10 had undergone back surgery in the past. About 90% were on narcotic painkillers. As per Dr.Nordt, the pain management specialist from Spine CenterinFlorida City, the present age is exciting in spinal cord stimulation. The doctors have a body of evidence revealed that the therapies may help patients with chronic moderate-to-severe low back and leg pain. High-frequency stimulation has shown increased benefit over conventional stimulation. This support these latest technological advances.

The therapies need to be adapted to individual requirements of patients. It is a matter of knowing your patient well and determining the most appropriate therapy. According to Patel, high-frequency stimulation is a valuable tool.