The psychological assessment of candidates for spinal cord stimulation for chronic pain management

Pain Pract. 2004 Sep;4(3):204-21. doi: 10.1111/j.1533-2500.2004.04305.x.


It is known that, in spite of meeting appropriate clinical criteria for spinal cord stimulation (SCS) and having undergone flawless procedures, a significant number of patients who fail the therapy continues to exist. It is the purpose of this article to focus on the development of psychosocial indicators of success for SCS, if any. Referring to specialist literature authors present a review of what is known, what is not known, and what remains controversial on this topic. After reading this article we hope the reader will understand the importance of a psychological evaluation as part of the development of standards for identifying appropriate patients for this therapy. To improve treatment outcomes of SCS, seems to be essential to perform psychosocial evaluations on all persons clinically indicated for SCS to exclude those patients, who most probably, on a psychosocial level, will fail the procedure. To maximize treatment efficacy, authors believe spinal cord stimulation for chronic pain control must be part of a comprehensive program. An accurate preoperative psychosocial assessment and a course of psychological assistance both before and after therapy seems to be crucial for improving outcomes.