Objective: Spinal cord stimulator (SCS) implantation is used to treat chronic pain, including painful musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs). This study examined the characteristics and outcomes of veterans receiving SCSs in Veterans Health Administration (VHA) facilities. Methods: The sample was drawn from the MSD Cohort and limited to three MSDs with the highest number of implants (N=815,475). There were 1490 veterans with these conditions who received SCS implants from 2000 to 2012, of which 95% (n=1414) had pain intensity numeric rating scale (NRS) data both pre-and post-implant. Results: Veterans who were 35–44 years old, White, and married reported higher pain NRS ratings, had comorbid inclusion diagnoses, had no medical comorbidities, had a BMI 25–29.9, or had a depressive disorder diagnosis were more likely to receive an SCS. Veterans 55+ years old or with an alcohol or substance use disorder were less likely to receive an SCS. Over 90% of those receiving an SCS were prescribed opioids in the year prior to implant. Veterans who had a presurgical pain score ≥4 had a clinically meaningful decrease in their pain score in the year following their 90-day recovery period (Day 91–456) greater than expected by chance alone. Similarly, there was a significant decrease in the percent of veterans receiving opioid therapy (92.4% vs 86.6%, p<0.0001) and a significant overall decrease in opioid dose [morphine equivalent dose per day (MEDD) =26.48 vs MEDD=22.59, p<0.0003]. Conclusion: Results offer evidence of benefit for some veterans with the examined conditions. Given known risks of opioid therapy, the reduction is an important potential benefit of SCS implants.
- Musculoskeletal disorders
- Spinal cord stimulator
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine