Spinal cord stimulators don’t relieve pain

by | Feb 2, 2024 | Health Effects of the Environment and Medical System, Lower Back Health, Lower back pain | 0 comments

There’s nothing worse than long-term, unrelieved, intense back pain. Not only does it diminish your quality of life and impact functional activities, it can actually kill you.

That’s why it’s so important to avoid chronic spinal pain with common sense preventive measures such as chiropractic care. (And healthful diet and exercise.)

But for those who are trapped in a severe negative cycle, one remedy that’s been tried is spinal cord stimulation. That means the surgical implantation of an electronic device that zaps your spinal cord with electrical impulses designed to override the pain signals.

Does it work?

The literature review conducted early in 2023 by the well-respected Cochrane group couldn’t find any evidence that spinal stimulation was effective. Most of the published studies only looked at the short term results; in the only study that looked even 6 months down the road, patients who had had the implants weren’t doing significantly better than those who hadn’t had them.

At the same time, there was a range of complications from the implants, ranging from infections (thankfully rare), but including many who had to have their device swapped out, entailing a second surgery.

What the US healthcare system does well

In general, the United States health care system performs very poorly as compared to the rest of the world. But one area in which we excel is the availability of the latest high tech, advanced treatments for those who can afford access to them.

God wiling, I may never need any of those advanced, high-tech treatments. But I’m grateful that they’ll be available and I hope I’ll be able to afford them if needed.

Nonetheless, the questionable efficacy of spinal stimulation is just one example of how we’re spending our health care dollars in the wrong ways. The medical model that guides our thinking and our research expenditures is based on outdated scientific ideas. What’s outdated is the focus on trying to erase or override the symptoms of disease or dysfunction.

What’s proven to be more effective is to strengthen the body’s internal resilience.

That’s where chiropractic excels. That’s the scientific model that should be at the heart of our health policy.

Dr. Lavine has been an innovator in the use of movement and touch to promote health since 1981. He practices in New York City and Princeton, NJ.

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