Chronic testicular pain is often debilitating and, in some instances, unresponsive to both medical and surgical treatment options. Individuals who do not respond to conservative therapies may need to consider an alternative approach. According to recent studies, physicians have been able to minimize symptoms of chronic testicular pain through the use of spinal cord stimulation (SCS). Dr. Eldor Brish – an experienced pain management physician from Austin Texas, states that SCS delivers a low voltage electrical current to the spinal cord to help alleviate pain. Approximately 50,000 neurostimulators are implanted worldwide per year and results have shown a significant decrease in chronic pain symptoms and often result in improved functional level. Dr. Eldor Brish discusses some of the common causes of testicular pain and effective treatment options available.
What are the Common Causes of Testicular Pain?
There is a multitude of reasons for chronic testicular pain including trauma and infection. Orchitis is an inflammatory condition affecting one or both testicles in men and is often the result of an infection. Testicular torsion can also lead to long-term pain and is the result of the twisting of the spermatic cord which provides blood flow to the testicle. Other forms of pain include epididymitis – an infection of the testicles and inguinal hernia. Lastly, cancer is an uncommon but possible cause of testicular pain.
How Does a Spinal Cord Stimulator Work?
According to Dr. Eldor Brish, an ideal candidate for spinal cord stimulation or neurostimulation therapy is unresponsive to other forms of treatment and is either not responsive to pain medications or cannot tolerate them. Individuals must undergo a thorough evaluation of their physical condition and medical history to ensure optimal results and rule out treatable diagnoses.
A SCS is surgically implanted in the body through a small incision and delivers a mild electrical current to the spinal cord. The neurostimulator battery is usually implanted in the upper buttock or abdomen and provides electrical energy to the spinal cord stimulator leads. Stimulation ultimately interferes with the signal to the brain, minimizing a significant amount of discomfort. Dr. Brish states that pain management is a relatively new specialty, with several modalities and treatment approaches that can help diminish chronic pain. When conservative treatment options fail, patients have the option of spinal cord stimulation which has achieved very positive results.
How Effective is the Procedure?
Stimulation will mask the pain and therefore decrease the need to rely to medications. The overall goal for spinal cord stimulation is a 50-80% reduction in one’s pain and improvement in functional level. Individuals receive a handheld programmer that allows them to adjust the stimulator in response to various pain levels or activities and enables individuals to manage their treatment.
A Viable Alternative SCS ultimately masks pain signals before reaching the brain, allowing individuals to continue to participate in their everyday life. According to Dr. Eldor Brish, through the use of innovative technology, many spinal cord stimulation patients report an increased sense of freedom and improved functional level.