Spinal Cord Stimulator Complications

Spinal cord simulator is for patients who experiences chronic back pain who fails to respond to other traditional treatment. This spinal cord stimulator is recommended to lessen the pain. It does not altogether eliminate the pain but just diminished the pain by fifty percent or even more (Pain 2007). The device is implanted through a cut in the back near the spine and works by interfering the pain signals of the body with electrical stimulations thus decreasing the pain. As any other surgeries, the procedure of implanting spinal cord stimulator may come with risks and complications.

The procedure is considered to be minimally invasive and is safe but still there are a few complications that may happen during or after the procedure. Complications are rare but you should be aware what to watch if it happens.


Any procedure that involves a cut or incision and implantation of surgical device in the body always has a possibility of infection. This infection can happen in the location on the cut, in the wires or in the device itself which can be readily treated with anti-biotic but there are infections too that occur in the bones or deep tissues of the body which is quite hard to treat. Always watch for symptoms of fever, pain, swelling or increasing redness.

If the infection includes the spinal canal it might be more serious. It might develop into a condition called epidural abscess which may form inside the spinal canal. If this complication happens then the patient might need surgery to remove the infection as well as the pressure from the nerves. The device implanted will need to be removed and anti-biotic is needed to cure the infection.

Defective Device

The spinal cord stimulator comprises pulse generator, battery charges, transmitter and leads that are place in the affected nerves which cause pain. In some cases the device may fail to operate thus result to reoccurrence of pain. If this happens then surgery might be needed again to get the faulty device and replace it with a new and functional one.

Nerve Damage

Implantation of the spinal cord stimulator needs careful navigation on fragile nerves in the spine thus there are chances that nerves can be damaged during the procedure. This often results to symptoms like numbness in the body, pain or weakness.

Spinal Fluid Leakage

Implantation of such stimulator around the spinal fluid can lead to spinal fluid leakage around the epidural space. This can result to severe headache or fatigue. This symptom goes away on its own if its mild but if it is serious then surgery may be necessary.


Spinal cord stimulator implant procedure needs the insertion of needles in the upper back or the chest which can cause the lungs to collapse. If this happens during the surgery then immediate action should be taken to restore the lungs to its right function and state.

These are the most common complications that may arise with spinal cord stimulator implantation. Although this is rare to happen still it is best that you know it so you will be aware what to watch for if in case it happens.