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Why Do I Need Psychological Screening for Spinal Cord Stimulation?

Spinal cord stimulation deploys an implanted device to send electrical currents to block pain messages to your brain.  The devices used are implanted in the patient around the spinal canal.

The idea of having a device implanted in the body can be stressful for some, even causing anxiety, so psychological screening for spinal cord stimulation is pursued, not because people are concerned you’ll lose your mind due to the treatment, but to gauge the possibility that associated stress and anxiety might interfere with the treatment.

Let’s review the question, “Why do I need psychological screening for spinal cord stimulation?”, covering some frequently asked questions.

To Your Benefit

Psychological screening allows your physician to see where your concerns are and how they might impede therapeutic efficacy.  When your doctor knows there are triggers, it’s easier to talk to you about them and to dispel any anxiety you may have about treatment.

The screening is primarily informational, assisting your medical team by making them aware of your misgivings in advance.  It enables your team to work with you and educate you about the therapy.

What Does the Screening Consist of?

Many people have never engaged with a professional in the field of psychology.  The very idea of consulting with one can be a source of anxiety, because they don’t know what to expect.

“Psychology screening” sounds a little ominous, so you may want to think of it as a conversation.  During this conversation, you’ll discuss your medical history, the history of the pain problem you’re treating, family and social history and any background concerning challenges managing alcohol or drug consumption.

You’ll also be asked if you’ve previously received any psychological counseling or treatment.

In addition, you’ll be given detailed questionnaires to complete, asking about your current mood, your goals for treatment and how you manage your pain.  All the information you provide will be treated as confidential, unless you reveal that you’ve been contemplating self-harm.

What If You’ve Been Depressed?

People with chronic pain issues requiring interventions like spinal cord stimulation are often depressed, so that’s not a roadblock to treatment.  If you’re anxious, depressed or irritable, it’s important to reveal this during your interview, as this will help your doctor intervene with medications and other strategies to improve your mental state.

Does Screening Stop Candidates?

Most candidates for spinal cord stimulation go through to the treatment.  It’s only in instances that patients are having clear psychological difficulties like hallucinations that spinal cord stimulation is ruled out.  That’s because it’s possible these candidates will have challenges following post-surgical requirements and directions.

We hope this brief primer about psychological screening for spinal cord stimulation has answered any questions you have about the need for this step.  There’s little to be concerned about and the screening will direct your physician, moving forward.  And that’s to your benefit!

Central Texas Spine Institute is the private practice of Dr. Randall F. Dryer, MD, top-rated surgeon.  Our team is dedicated to your wellbeing and restoring you to full function.  Contact us.