Spinal Cord Stimulation Market Getting More Crowded

Spinal Cord Stimulation Market Getting More Crowded

SENZA-system-with-IPG1500-1-300x200Chronic pain patients who look to spinal cord stimulation (SCS) as a possible answer are seeing more choices, and if an industry report is right, there will be more spinal cord stimulation implants performed.

SCS involves direct stimulation of the nervous system with electrical signals and is used as a treatment for unmanageable chronic pain and/or movement disorders.

The new player in the fast-growing, $1.3 billion spinal cord stimulation business is Nevro Corp (NYSE: NEVRO) which received an “approvable” letter from the FDA for its SCS system for the treatment of chronic pain.

The device, called Senza, delivers a different kind of electrical stimulation to mask the pain signals before they reach the brain and are perceived as pain. Their proprietary technology delivers “HF10” therapy, “an advanced SCS therapy that provides electrical pulses to the spinal cord at a rate up to 10,000 per second (10 kHz), as compared to traditional SCS, which utilizes low frequency stimulation, typically between 40 Hz and 60 Hz,” the company’s website explains.

“We are pleased that the FDA has determined our Senza SCS system to be approvable based on the strength of the data provided in the PMA,” Michael DeMane, Nevro’s chairman and chief executive officer, said in a statement. “We are working to satisfy the conditions of approval and anticipate initial commercial availability in the U.S. by mid-2015,” he added.

Nevro faces some big competition with new industry leader, Boston Scientific, Medtronic and St. Jude.  According to iData Research, the SCS market is far from penetrated. Less the 10% of people who would benefit from SCS therapy use it.  They also state, “SCS devices have been shown to produce overall cost savings in the treatment of chronic pain patients in the United States. SCS therapy provides an alternative to opioid medications that can carry substantial health risks.”

The industry report says the SCS market is growing thanks to favorable reimbursement by insurance companies.

The report also says that Boston Scientific has grown its share in the SCS market for back pain and failed back surgery syndrome (FBSS) to become the leading competitor in those areas. Long-time industry leader Medtronic still has the largest client base in spinal cord stimulators. The major players, Boston Scientific, Medtronic and St. Jude Medical have all run public awareness campaigns for SCS, a trend most expect to continue as the sector grows and competition increases.

The National Pain Report is going to increase its coverage of SCS—given that it’s expected to be a growing therapy.

As always, we are interested in reader reactions.

Have you had a spinal cord stimulation implant?

How did it work for you?

Authored by: Ed Coghlan

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I’m very happy with my Boston scientific stimulator just have a few question: I’m 31 and have had it a short time and want to loose about 30-50 lbs and tighten everything to include my butt ( battery is implanted high on the right buttock) will this affect the pack like will it shift or be noticeable through the skin? Also a more personal question when did you feel comfortable, well for a lack of a better way of saying, it have sex? Also driving ?


I feel my stimulator has been a lifesaver for me! The trial went well and helped my lower back and left leg tremendously. My pain doc recommended Medtronics. I have had good experiences with my Medtronics nurse. She always calls me back and patiently answers ally many questions. I guess they are different because one person mentioned they cannot have a MRI but I am allowed to have a MRI. I recently had to have one for my neck following a car accident so I am sure I can have one. My stimulator doesn’t take the pain away 100% but I don’t think anything ever will after 3 back surgeries. I am just thrilled that I can stand to cook meals now and shop for a bit without paying for it for several days. I feel like my stimulator gave me back some level of normal in my life! I agree with the others to do your research. I’m not sure about this new stimulator mentioned above. I perfer things that have been around a bit, not ready to be any docs guinea pig just so he can try the newest thing.


I had my spinal cord stimulator implanted in 2006. In the beginning it helped my legs but never helped my back. Over the years I developed so much scar tissue that it eventually has 2 banks of the electrode stop working, as they are not in contact with the thecal sac. The scar tissue has really gotten so bad that I now feel like I have a knife sticking between my shoulder blades and when I talk to my St. Jude rep. they tell me they have never heard of removal of a probe. I in fact I have heard of it but with the development of excessive scar tissue it may not be a possibility. My only advice to anyone thinking of having this done, do your research, as with any medical device there are always complications. I made the mistake of listening to my pain management doctor and went through the trial and I had to do it three times because of migration of the electrode during the trial stage. Well no crying over spilled milk, what is done is done. I still see my Pain Management doctor monthly, the old ball and chain, unfortunately I don’t see that changing soon.


I look at these things while waiting for my pain dr to get in the room. They scare the shit out of me. I will not be having anything else stuck inside my body. No thanks.


I’ve has an SCS since last April (Medtronic Adaptive Stim) for CRPS and it’s a mixed blessing, but I’m far more active with it and have less pain so I’m happy overall. When my pain levels really spike, though, it can be tricky to get coverage without the coverage itself impeding movement; the signal causes muscle weakness and a profound exhaustion at very high power and moving can causes some really unpleasant jolts– that isn’t the case when I have normal pain levels, so I accept the bad with the good and use topical ketamine and lidocaine to supplement when things get ugly instead of cranking the power too much. Quite a few people have told me that it can take a year or more to really adjust to life with an SCS and I’m finding that to be true, lots of nuance to managing the remote control.

Darisse Smith

I have had a Boston Scientific SCS for about 6 years, and it has saved my life. I was at the end of my rope struggling to control neuropathic pain down my left leg. I was an active, vibrant, athletic Army Captain and the pain left me just a miserable shell of myself with my butt permanently implanted on our couch. I’ve had 1 revision of my SCS and I had to learn that I had some limitations b/c of the device. I might not be completing any Ironman Triathlons, but I still can be an active participant in my life, including chasing my 3 year old little boy all day/every day. I recommend before getting an SCS implant, shop around. Learn about all the different kinds. Talk to patients about their outcomes and make the choice that is right for you, even if you have to see a few doctors.

Diane Succio

I recently had the SCS implanted. After the trail period which was fantastic, I did not have 1 muscle spasm, we decided to go ahead with it. After a painful surgery the 1st month was great. I have had it adjusted 3 times since December and now it just doesn’t seem like it is working. If I knew that than, I most certainly would have skipped it. I know some people have great results but mine is a Total Failure.

Scott Mitchell

Had St JUDES eon mini for 3 years.After first 6 months just didn’t help with pain.It actually impeded treatment due to the fact that you CAN NOT have another MRI after installed.And it hurt way worse coming out then it did being installed.


I got an SCS from St. Judes three years ago next month. The trial was amazing. I cried when they had to take it out. But the actual stimulator was an entirely different story. First, it left me with a permanent muscle spasm where the top incision is located. Secondly, the battery pack had to be removed surgically, and re-implanted in another spot. It was sticking out of my back, and catching on things. Then the battery charger burned me inside. They did replace the charger, with a less powerful one, but it takes a long time to charge. Also, the stimulator tends to turn on by itself, on programs that I don’ t have. I have called the company numerous times to complain, and they just plain don’t believe me. It took me several hours the first time to figure out what the heck was happening to my body. I thought that one of my nerves kept misfiring, but it was too rhythmic. It was also barely perceptible. I finally realized that it was the stimulator, but I couldn’t turn it off. This has happened to me three times, and one person from St. Jude actually hung up on me!! Lastly, and most importantly, it doesn’t hit the spot where I have the most pain, my lower back. We think that the surgeon put the stimulator in crooked. In fact the company told me that they can move it. (another surgery??? no way!!!) I have given up on this stimulator. I tried to get the surgeon to take it out so that I can get MRI’s instead of CT’s, but he claims that it will ruin my spine, if he does. I also heard outside room his PA talking to the rep, and mentioned “growing pains”. I think that the thing was put in wrong, but there is nothing that I can do about that now. My body has been mutilated enough!! So I suggest to anyone that is considering implanting something in their body to make sure that your surgeon has a lot of experience, and I do mean a lot!! This has been a nightmare from the beginning. I also didn’t mention the fact that I couldn’t get pain meds for the surgical pain either. BTW, I live in Florida, surprise,surprise. I am not trying to tell people not to get an SCS, just make sure what you are getting into, and that your surgeon is EXPERIENCED. We have enough problems with pain, without added problems that we invite.

Doc Anonymous

While there is no doubt that many, but not all, chronic back pain patients experience some pain relief with Stimulators, there are still a significant number who have adverse effects and stop using the devices. There is precious little data out there, perhaps because collection and publication of that data lies in the hands of those who profit most from their use and who stand to lose the most if data were published.

Second, there is virtually NO data on long term efficacy LONG TERM safety of the devices. Patients deserve to be told this information so that they can make an informed decision about the use of the device.

Third, there is no published scientific discussion of exactly how the stimulators work. How can their long term safety and efficacy be known if in fact there is no sound scientific understanding of how the stimulators work?


just had one implanted over a week ago. I got the peripheral nerve stimulator. Same concept but under the skin around my spine instead of in it. Waiting for the my back to settle with swelling to see my results and how much my pain will decrease through activity. If I don’t have enough relief I will get the spinal cord stimulator in my spine. I have extra ports in my battery (inserted in buttocks) to add extra wires. Praying this changes my life because at the moment I don’t have one.

Cathey Shaw

Ive had a scs for over 20 years , it saved me , I get around 98% – 100% pain relief . Have had several revisions as well , it completely saved my life and I function very normally ! I highly recommend them !