Spinal Cord Stimulation Research

There are many clinical studies that show the effectiveness of spinal cord stimulation therapy in reducing pain and allowing people with chronic pain to once again be active. A systematic review of the literature over a 20 year period by Cameron1 concluded that there are over 68 studies (consisting of 3,679 patients) that fulfill acceptable study methodology, reporting on the safety and efficacy of spinal cord stimulation therapy. The author of this literature review concluded that spinal cord stimulation had a: "positive, symptomatic, long-term effect in cases of refractory angina, severe ischemic limb pain secondary to peripheral vascular disease, peripheral neuropathic pain, and chronic low-back pain, and that, in general, spinal cord stimulation was a safe and effective treatment for a variety of chronic neuropathic conditions."

A literature review by Taylor et al2 found that across a range of medical indications, the initial acquisition costs of spinal cord stimulators are consistently offset by a reduction in post-implant healthcare resource demands and costs.

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Additional studies report the safety and efficacy of spinal cord stimulation include:

  • Kemler et al3 reported in a randomized, controlled trial (RCT) of 56 patients that spinal cord stimulation can reduce pain and improve health-related quality of life.
  • Burchiel et al4 reported in a randomized, controlled trial of 70 patients treated with spinal cord stimulation that 1 year of spinal cord stimulation can result in significant long-term improvement in the pain and quality of life among patients with chronic back pain and extremity pain.

Spinal Cord Stimulation for Failed Back Surgery Syndrome

A study by Kumar et al5 of spinal cord stimulation in 182 patients with post-laminectomy pain reported successful management of pain in 53% of patients.

Futhermore, the study found that after undergoing spinal cord stimulation many patients returned to gainful employment and a more active lifestyle.

  • Prior to spinal cord stimulation therapy, only eighteen patients in this group were employed. All eighteen patients reported significant increases in their level of work post spinal cord stimulation.
  • Additionally, 22 other spinal cord patients in this group reported entry into gainful employment.
  • Furthermore, 6 patients over the age of 60 years reported a significant increase in activities of daily living.

Thus, a total of 46 patients (28% of those in the study) with successful implantation reported a significant increase in daily activities, which is analogous to gainful employment.

In separate research, North et al6 reported in a randomized, controlled trial of spinal cord stimulation versus re-operation (repeat surgery) for failed back surgery syndrome that patients treated with spinal cord stimulation showed a statistically significant advantage over re-operation.


  1. Cameron T. Safety and Efficacy of Spinal Cord Stimulation for the Treatment of Chronic Pain: a 20-year Literature Review. J. Neurosurgy: Spine, March 2004, 254-267.
  2. Taylor RS, Taylor RJ, Van Buyten, Buchser E, North R, Baylis S. The Cost Effectiveness of Spinal Cord Stimulation in the Treatment of Pain: a Systematic Review of the Literature. J Pain Symptom Manage. April 2004:370-378.
  3. Kemler MA, Barendse GA, van Kleef M, de Vet HC, et al. Spinal Cord Stimulation in Patients with Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy. NEJM. 2000;343:618-24.

Complete Listing of References