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Psychological Assessment for Spinal Cord Stimulation (SCS)

Spinal cord stimulation (SCS) is a pain management strategy designed for patients with chronic pain. It is often an alternative when surgery has not provided the intended relief, and most often minimizes the use and abuse of opioids.

Spinal cord stimulation uses electrical current to minimize the feeling of pain reaching the brain. Small devices are inserted in the area around the spinal canal. The patient can control the amount of stimulation they need at any given time.

Pain is physical and emotional. While pain is real, it is also subjective and is defined by the person who experiences it. Coping skills can contribute to the outcome.

A psychological assessment is used to determine the patient’s suitability for the procedure and increase the likelihood of successful outcomes. For example, psychological factors such as depression, anxiety, somatization and coping skills are likely to affect outcomes.

Psychological assessment is designed to identify problematic emotional reactions, maladaptive thinking and behavior, and social problems that contribute to pain and disability. Evaluation of these factors can influence treatment outcome. The evaluator will also make an assessment of sensory, affective, cognitive, and behavioral components of the pain experience. One’s expectations of the SCS also need to be identified realistically.

A number of studies have examined psychological variables associated with response to pain treatment. In general, a handful of risk factors have been identified that correlate with greater risk for unsuccessful outcomes from pain treatment. Coping with pain and the emotional impact on coping was a major determinant of SCS outcomes for patients.

The doctors at Athans and Associates will conduct an initial interview (diagnostic assessment) which will include a history as well as many questions about the pain you have been experiencing. Although there is a general protocol, we will then decide which tests to administer and schedule approximately three hours of testing in one to two additional intervals. Once the report is completed, a feedback session will be scheduled for you. Your doctors will also have access to the report.

Please let us know if you have additional questions.


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