I have become increasingly concerned the last few months over the developing attitude that spinal cord stimulation is okay to try even without addressing the root of an individual's problem.
Normally I would stay out of a discussion like this, but this really worries me based on the direction this developing attitude is sending the mindset of different state governments and health insurers. Just recently in my own home state, there was a push to consider policy changes that may limit patient access to important therapies such as spinal cord stimulation. Since it is a very expensive therapy government officials are looking towards it as a way to cut expenditures from their budgets.
As patients we ourselves are somewhat to blame for this because we are driving the numbers through the roof in regards to trial stimulator and permanent implant failures. In a desire to find relief from relentless chronic pain, patients are seeking out spinal cord stimulation versus seeking out other conventional or traditional treatments and possible surgical interventions. Some are even seeking it out, because it appears to be the "latest and greatest" pain management device.
Until recently, spinal cord stimulation and drug pumps were deemed a treatment of last resort. Now it seems that patients and financially challenged companies are campaigning to move one or both therapies into more of the "avoid surgery" category. By doing this they/we are beginning to create the statistics needed by governments and insurance companies to show how "ineffective" spinal cord stimulation is. When in reality spinal cord stimulation is extremely effective in the right cases.
Better patient screening should be being carried out by doctors and "jumping on the bandwagon" requests should be discouraged.
Also jumbled up in this mess, is the issue with regards to the long term use and prescribing of opiates. The more that the government cracks down on PM docs to "squelch" prescription drug abuse the more inclined they are to recommend spinal cord stimulation versus drug therapy.
So what can we as patients do?
What as patients should we do?
Just some thoughts on a subject near and dear to my heart.