Spinal Cord Stimulator Evaluations
Spinal cord stimulation (SCS) are frequently used by patients considered good candidates for this form of therapy by their physicians to treat chronic pain.
What is SCS?
SCS is a type of electrical nerve stimulation whereby a small pulse generator sends electrical pulses to the affected nerves in the spinal cord believed to contribute or cause your chronic pain; these pulses disrupt the nerve transmissions that cause you to feel pain.
However, to first see if you will benefit from SCS, and it will be beneficial in alleviating your pain distress and disability, your physician will first insert a temporary electrode to the affected area in your spine, to see if this form of therapy is helpful. This electrode will then be connected to a pulse generator that will be worn outside your body, which you may be able to control. If the temporary SCS trial is successful, your physician will then permanently implant a pulse generator under your skin. However, prior to having even the trial SCS procedure, you will be referred to a pain psychologist for a psychological evaluation.
“Why do I need to have a psychological evaluation?”
Having a psychological assessment prior to this procedure is very common. Because of the potential risks and subsequent impact on health—of making things far worse than they presently are (it is after all, an invasive procedure around your spine)—it is a requirement by many insurance providers prior to the procedure. The evaluation will be used to determine your readiness psychologically for the procedure, and if there are any mental health issues that might contribute to, or interfere with, your being successful with the procedure. This is something your medical providers need to know and they will also discuss with you if there is an issue in this area. If you are experiencing depression, anxiety, etc. please do not worry; these problems by themselves do not necessarily mean you will be disqualified for the SCS procedure. Knowing beforehand however, that you are struggling with mental health difficulties can ensure that proper support is in place prior to the procedure, to enhance and increase the likelihood of your success.
What to expect during your pre-surgery evaluation:
The SCS psychological evaluation will usually not take longer than 60 minutes. Upon your arrival for your scheduled appointment, you will be asked to fill out several healthcare assessments, which will help your healthcare providers understand potential psychological barriers to your post-surgical success. You will then be asked a series of questions by a licensed pain psychologist regarding your chronic pain, including any health concerns, stress, mood, current living situation you are experiencing, and how much you understand the proposed procedure. Finally, you will be assessed for how much you are aware of any associated risks—as well as your awareness of the likelihood of success SCS therapy may have in alleviating your chronic pain. At the conclusion of your evaluation, your provider will review his/her findings with you, and answer any questions you may have that your pain psychologist is able to answer; you will be referred to your physicians regarding any medical questions or those pertaining to the SCS device or actual procedure for answers to those questions. A summary consultation report will then be sent to your referring physician, notifying them of the pain psychologists' findings.
Behavioral Medicine Associates, LLC would be delighted to help you with your pre-SCS evaluation. We have completed many psychological assessments which have been helpful to patients seeking this form of chronic pain management treatment, with expertise and confidentiality.
For more information about our services or to make an appointment, please contact us. We look forward to serving you!