Spinal Cord Stimulation

What is Spinal Cord Stimulation?

Spinal Cord Stimulation is a pain management therapy that has garnered increased attention in recent years for its effective ability to intercept pain signals generated in the spine from reaching the brain. This method of treatment uses electrical pulses from an implanted device to stimulate nerves and essentially mask the negative sensations that they are producing for a patient in pain.

What does spinal cord stimulation treat?

Spinal Cord Stimulation is typically for people with chronic back pain that have been unsuccessful with other treatments or who have begun to experience increased pain over time. Spinal Cord Stimulation helps with things such as Spinal Cord Injury, Spinal Stenosis, Sciatica, Degenerative Disc Disease, CRPS and failed back surgery. It can also help with Neuropathic pain caused from a pinched nerve.

The Procedure:

Before receiving permanent implantation of a STIM unit, candidates will undergo a trial to determine if this will work as a viable form of relief for them. Using a hollow needle and x-ray fluoroscopy, electrical leads are implanted near the spine to target specific nerves corresponding to an individual’s specific area of pain. They are connected to the device that is worn externally for the 3-7 day trial period in which patients are instructed to keep track of their pain level during normally exasperating activities. The device generates a current that can be adjusted to varying levels of frequency to suit a patient’s needs. Depending on these settings, a patient may feel a tingling sensation that masks their normal pain sensations or nothing at all.

A trial procedure is deemed successful if a patient experiences at least a 50% reduction in pain. Once proven to be an eligible candidate, patients may schedule an outpatient surgery to receive permanent implantation. Systems can last anywhere from 2-10 years depending on if they are equipped with a rechargeable system and can also be removed at any time without damage to the spinal system.


Pain Specialists works with preferred partners St. Jude and Abbott to provide this treatment to patients. Get in touch with our specialists today to see if you may be an eligible candidate.



Ensuring Safety in Pain Managment

The specialty practice of Pain Management is a fairly new addition to the repertoire of the medical field. While there is an indispensable need for this expertise with Chronic Pain affecting over 11% of the population each year, we realize that this field requires vigilance, extensive clinical knowledge, and ethical responsibility on behalf of its physicians. More importantly, our owner and leading physician, Dr. Edward Tavel knows this through his 25 years of experience working in this field since its beginning.

At Pain Specialists our goal is to provide ETHICAL, SAFE, and EFFECTIVE pain management solutions to our patients. Our board certified physicians use a multi-faceted approach to focus on long-term pain relief and rehabilitation through our interventional treatment options without the need for surgery or habit forming drugs.

To ensure our patient’s safety, our practice holds ourselves to both, high regulatory and ethical standards in regard to our treatment and prescribing methods. Dr. Tavel and the rest of our physician staff participate in mandatory DHEC training concerning the safe handling of controlled substances and contribute to a continuous, medical review dialogue within our practice.

We are proud to have Dr. Tavel represent our practice as a member of The Medical Safety Review Board for South Carolina. Dr. Tavel was recognized and selected for this position due to his strict operating guidelines employed within Pain Specialists and his conservative best practices for ensuring safe pain management treatment.

Our first concern is, and will always be, patient safety and satisfaction. We welcome any feedback, comments, questions, or concerns on this very important and on-going dialogue.

Epidural Steroid Injections (ESI)

What is an ESI?

An epidural steroid injection is a pain management option for people with low back, leg, arm, and neck pain. The injection involves a minimally invasive procedure where a steroid, combined with a numbing agent, is administered into the epidural space of the spine. Depending on the patient’s area of pain, the injection is positioned at a specific level of the spine and side of the body to directly target the affected nerve roots. The injection works to decrease inflammation and pain, as to hopefully improve function for the patient. Most individuals begin to feel relief after only a few days that may last anywhere from a few weeks to several years after the procedure.

Who qualifies to get an ESI?

Epidural steroid injections are helpful to people who have painful inflammatory conditions. Some of these conditions may include; Sciatica, Degenerative Disc Disease, Herniated Disc, and Spinal Stenosis. The injection is an interventional method that can be used to determine whether surgery may or may not be necessary for one of these conditions. Often times the relief provided by an ESI gives patients the ability to work on improving their condition through resources such as physical therapy that may have been too painful before.

Patients considering an ESI should consult with their doctor prior, to ensure this is a safe option for them. The injection can cause a spike in blood-sugar levels for those with diabetes and individuals taking blood-thinners will be asked to stop taking this medication a few days before the procedure.

What to expect from the procedure:

The ESI is an outpatient procedure that can be performed in 15-45 minutes. The patient is awake during this time in order to provide feedback to the physician, although they may be provided mild sedation and a local anesthetic. If any sedation is used, the patient should bring a driver with them the day of the procedure.

The next day normal activity may be resumed but individuals should expect a little soreness and swelling around the injection site. A follow-up appointment will need to be scheduled to discuss with the doctor the effectiveness of the injection and any other concerns you may have.



What is a Pain Specialist?

It seems like there are specialists for everything these days. With over 100 million people living with chronic pain (in the United States alone) it is only fitting that there should be specific doctors for this epidemic.

The term “pain specialist” can encapsulate multiple types of techniques and treatment methods but all these doctors have the same goal of managing pain for their patients. Many of these doctors have training in anesthesiology, physical therapy, or even neurology and treat conditions ranging from headaches, to recent injuries, to chronic illness. These specialists are often referred by your primary care doctor and work in tandem to treat underlying problems.

Some common issues that are treated by pain specialists include: back pain, neck pain, knee pain, Arthritis, neuropathic pain, headaches, Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS), pelvic pain, Fibromyalgia, autoimmune diseases, herniated disc, Degenerative Disc Disease (DDD), Sciatica, Scoliosis, wrist pain and Carpal Tunnel, Postherpetic Neuralgia (pain after shingles), Diabetic Polyneuropathy, phantom limb pain, spine and spinal cord disorders.

There are a variety of treatment options for dealing with this pain and a specialist makes this decision based on an individual basis. The type of pain, cause of the pain, and patient lifestyle are all contributing factors to this decision. That being said, common interventional pain management methods include: implantable devices (stimulators), injections (steroid, anesthesia, epidural), nerve blocks, physical therapy (massage, occupational/recreational therapy), trigger point injections, branch blocks, and Rhizotomy.

Pain management has come a long way from the simple prescription of medications with new, cutting-edge treatments always being implanted. We work to understand, treat, and prevent your pain so that you don’t have to be limited in living the life you love.


Simple Anatomy of the Spine

The spine is most commonly thought of and referred to as the backbone that lends itself to movement, functionality, and support of the human body. This is of course true, but rather than being made up of just one long sequence of vertebrae and joints, the spine is actually made up of three distinctive parts. These three parts of the spine are very important as they all support different operations and work together to protect the nerves of the spinal cord.

Cervical, Thoracic, and Lumbar Spine are medical terminology used during patient examinations and treatment. Since these three areas are so different, focusing on a specific area of the spine can help diagnosis and treatment of ailments to be more productive.

Cervical Spine:

The cervical spine refers to the uppermost area of the spine, running from the top of the shoulders to the neck and head. Seven vertebrae make up the cervical spine which has a natural slightly concave curve. The main function of the cervical spine is to support the head, which is not a task taken lightly as this burden bares an average weight of 10 pounds. This part of the spine also allows for the most extended range of motion through up-down as well as left-to-right rotation.

Thoracic Spine:

The thoracic spine is located in the middle region of the back and starts where the cervical spine left off. It is made up of 12 vertebrae that become increasingly larger down the back and forms a slight convex shape. The thoracic spine has the main function of supporting your ribs and protecting essential organs.

Lumbar Spine:

Finally, at the base of the back is the lumbar spine. There are 5 large vertebrae that make up this portion of the spine and connect to the Sacrum, or hips. The lumbar spine bears a substantial amount of body weight and is often the source of many people’s back pain for this reason.


The majority of procedures at Pain Specialists of Charleston, Columbia, and Beaufort can be conducted in any of these areas of the spine.

To learn more about treatment options or to schedule an appointment give us a call!