Spinal Cord Stimulation

spinal cord stimulator (SCS)  is a device used to exert pulsed electrical signals to the spinal cord to control chronic pain. Presurgical psychological evaluation are common in most SCS implant cases.

Many patient’s feel uncomfortable about having to see a psychologist in order to get a SCS implant.  They may even feel offended if they take it to mean that their pain is “psychological.”  This is not at all the case.When you hurt, you won’t feel good physically or mentally, period.  We understand.  We see hundred of patients a year undergoing SCS procedure.

Your surgeon/pain specialist (physiatrist) has referred you for a psychological evaluation because:

  1. Psychological factors are recognized as potentially important determinants of response to SCS treatment.
  2. An estimated 20% to 45% of chronic pain patients suffer from concurrent psychiatric illness.  It is typical and expected that persons living with chronic pain will have high levels of irritability, anxiety and depression.  Indeed, pain relief often causes all mental illness to remit.
  3. Many insurance companies mandate psychological screening prior to surgery.

This is what to expect during a Presurgical psychological evaluation for SCS implant:

Comprehensive Psychological Interview, which will explore:

  • Patient’s  Reasons for Seeking Surgery
  • Patient’s pain history and current pain levels
  • Patient’s Understanding of SCS Surgery, Including Risks and Benefits and post-surgical commitments
  • Patient’s expectations after surgery
  • Patient’s Attempts at controlling pain
  • Patient’s Medical History
  • Patient’s Quality of Life as a Chronic Pain Patient
  • Patient’s Social Support and Psychosocial History
  • Patient’s Mental Health History

After the interview, Psychological Testing will be completed:

Testing consists of objective personality, mood, and cognitive tests,  which are useful for determining the patient’s level of psychological adjustment and any potential challenges for the surgeon and/or physiatrist team in the management of the patient’s pain.

Report is completed and sent to referring Physician.

The patient has option of coming bad and speaking to psychologist about the report during a feedback session.


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