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Spinal Cord Stimulator Pre-Surgical Psychological Evaluation

What is Spinal Cord Stimulator Pre-Surgical Psychological Evaluation?

Spinal cord stimulation is a treatment for chronic pain. Only 9% of the body’s nerve system is meant to receive and send pain notifications, and these pain messages are important indicators of injury that prevent us from further injuring ourselves. For some patients, these receptors function improperly or are overactive. These patients will experience chronic pain. Patients who struggle with chronic pain may choose to undergo spinal cord stimulation surgery. During this procedure, a small spinal cord stimulator (SCS) device is implanted below the skin and attached to your nerve system. When you experience chronic pain, the SCS device will mask the signal before it reaches your brain, relieving discomfort. Before you decide to move forward with any surgical procedure, it’s important to be mentally and physically prepared. Insurance providers commonly require patients to receive pre-surgical psychological evaluations for a number of procedures including SCS placement. The goal is to avoid adverse mental and physical health risks. These evaluations may uncover other areas that cause or exacerbate chronic pain and help patients prepare for their procedures.

Who Should Receive Spinal Cord Stimulator Pre-Surgical Psychological Evaluation?

If you’ve chosen to move forward with SCS placement and use medical insurance coverage to offset the cost of care, a pre-surgical psychological evaluation will likely be required by your insurance providers. You may also want to consider scheduling a pre-surgical psychological evaluation if you need help determining whether or not an SCS device is right for you. We can walk you through your goals and expectations, and help you feel 100% confident before you move forward with the procedure. It’s important for you to understand that these tests are not created to pass or fail you as a candidate for SCS placement. Instead, your doctors and insurance providers use the pre-surgical psychological evaluation to guide your care and ensure success. Additionally, past psychological concerns will not necessarily mean you are not a candidate for SCS treatment. Every patient is different, and we will assess your situation individually.

What Kind of Testing is Involved?

The SCS pre-surgical psychological evaluation requires patients to answer a series of questions for assessment as well as participating in a clinical interview. Your assessments will have questions that give us a better understanding of your levels of pain, history of chronic pain, activities that may be contributing factors, and past and present pain relief methods. The psychological assessment also reveals a clearer of your beliefs about the cause of your chronic pain and post-surgical expectations. These evaluations are used to guide the second phase of your evaluation – the clinical interview.

Patients are often worried about this part of the evaluation. Media gives us images of people crying on a couch and blaming their parents for life’s struggles. However, your clinical interview is really just a relaxed conversation with a professional who understands the emotional stress that comes with making big life changes and wants to help you succeed. During this conversation, we will review your assessment results, and much of the discussion is guided by your answers to these questions.

Your psychologist’s role during the clinical interview isn’t to judge you. Instead, we’re here to collect the necessary information for your doctor or insurance provider. We will also educate you by providing some information about what may happen before, during, and after SCS treatment, so you’re prepared mentally and physically for the process. As we talk about your history of pain and any past psychiatric symptoms, diagnoses, or treatment, you may experience some emotions that surprise you. When this happens, we’ll help you address the concerns right away to put your mind at ease. In addition to preparing you for the treatment process, we will also want to know more about your current lifestyle and support system. Before, during, and after any kind of surgery, it’s essential that you have family and friends who will help you succeed.

After your pre-surgical psychological evaluation, we will compile your information and provide a report for you, your insurer, and your surgeon. If you have questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to ask during your visit, or call our office to follow up. We’re here to help when you need us.

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