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Spinal Cord Stimulation Viable in Deployed Military Personnel

Last Updated: June 25, 2009.

Spinal cord stimulation (SCS) may be a viable approach to treating military personnel with chronic pain who wish to continue overseas deployments, according to research published in the July issue of Anesthesia & Analgesia.

THURSDAY, June 25 (HealthDay News) -- Spinal cord stimulation (SCS) may be a viable approach to treating military personnel with chronic pain who wish to continue overseas deployments, according to research published in the July issue of Anesthesia & Analgesia.

Anthony Dragovich, M.D., of the Womack Army Medical Center in Ft. Bragg, N.C., and colleagues reviewed the cases of four active duty military personnel and two contractors who used SCS or occipital nerve stimulation following issues such as discectomy and spinal fusion, joint injuries, and fragmentation injury.

All six patients were deployed overseas following stimulator placement. The researchers found that five completed their tours of duty without mechanical complications during deployment and required only minimal medical resources, such as treatment with an NSAID. One patient, however, was reinjured in a fall from a truck in Iraq, and later had his system replaced but continued to have severe pain despite opioid use.

"In conclusion, this small series suggests that SCS should be considered in motivated patients who suffer from chronic pain and wish to return to physically strenuous occupations. Both the patient and treating physicians should be aware of the limitations and potential complications of dorsal column and peripheral nerve stimulators. However, with appropriate selection criteria, SCS can be a life-altering therapy that enables soldiers and other patients to achieve their professional goals," the authors write.

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