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We Can Help If Pain Returns After Back Surgery

By Brad Hauber on 
Posted on June 15, 2020

We Can Help If Pain Returns After Back Surgery

Brad Picha, M.D., an orthopaedic surgeon at the renowned Spine and Orthopedic Institute at St. Vincent Charity Medical Center, is board certified in orthopedic and spine surgery. To schedule a consultation with Dr. Picha, please call 216-369-2830.

With today’s technology and minimally invasive procedures, spine surgery is a viable option for the 16 million Americans experiencing chronic back pain. However, even with advanced techniques, an estimated 10 to 30 percent of patients continue to experience persistent and, sometimes severe, pain. The good news is there are effective treatments to help those with lingering pain.

“Patients suffering pain after back surgery often feel helpless. Even though their pain 

may be less than before surgery, it continues to affect their overall quality of life,” said Brad Picha, M.D., orthopedic spine surgeon at St. Vincent Charity Medical Center.

When less invasive treatments have failed to provide sufficient relief, Dr. Picha said an effective option for patients is the use of a spinal cord stimulator. The implanted device sends low level electrical signals directly around the spinal cord to help reduce the pain patients feel.

Often described as a “pacemaker for the spine,” spinal cord stimulators consist of thin wires and electrodes, placed between the spinal cord and vertebrae, and a battery pack, or generator, placed under the skin near the buttocks. Patients are able to turn the device on or off, or adjust the intensity of the signal, when they feel pain.

“While the stimulation does not eliminate the source of the pain, it does disrupt the signal to the brain. For many patients, this significantly reduces or eliminates the pain and allows them to return to work or regular daily activities,” Dr. Picha said.

Studies show that spinal cord stimulation demonstrated good to excellent long-term relief in 50 to 80 percent of patients suffering chronic pain. Because the amount of pain relief varies for each person, a trial simulation, which places the stimulator on the outside of the body, is performed before the device is surgically implanted.

“The trial is a noninvasive way for us to allow the patient to experience for typically five to seven days the degree to which the stimulator will provide relief,” Dr. Picha said. “While the goal is to achieve a 50 to 70 percent reduction in pain, some patients find they can return to daily activities with even less than that. The trial allows me to work with my patient to decide if this is the right treatment path for their specific situation.”


To schedule a consultation with Dr. Brad Picha, please call 216-369-2830.

Dr. Picha, an orthopaedic surgeon at the renowned Spine and Orthopedic Institute at St. Vincent Charity Medical Center, is board certified in orthopedic and spine surgery.

Brad Picha, M.D., an orthopaedic surgeon at the renowned Spine and Orthopedic Institute at St. Vincent Charity Medical Center, is board certified in orthopedic and spine surgery. To schedule a consultation with Dr. Picha, please call 216-369-2830.

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