The Spinal Cord Stimulator

Brig Berthold
6 min readMar 15, 2022

A Chronic Pain Miracle?

Photo by israel palacio on Unsplash

A couple of years ago, I underwent my second back surgery. Once again, I was told I would trade some temporary pain for the promise of a long-term solution. I would sacrifice mobility, some bone, and another separation of my muscular integrity for the chance of relief.

The proposed solution? A spinal cord stimulator.

What is it?

The device itself is about the size of two 800 mg ibuprofen tablets stacked atop one another, lengthwise. On the “front” of that device are two rows of eight electrical leads — sixteen, in all. When activated, the leads produce electricity. The gizmo fits under my bone, anchored in place, and rests atop the protective sleeve guarding the nerves that make up my spinal cord. From there, wires run under my skin to a small battery in my butt cheek. Think of a pacemaker.

By adding electrical stimulation directly to the spinal cord, you effectively create white noise. This white noise is supposed to mask your brain’s ability to perceive pain signals. Placement is dictated by the area of your body producing the pain. For me, that’s between my shoulder blades (approximately thoracic level eight) which governs most of the nerves in my lumbar and lower extremities.

How did I get one?



Brig Berthold

I am a father, widower, and veteran. Co-host of the Baseball Together podcast and author of Sidekick: A Pregnancy Field Guide for Dudes.