Spinal cord stimulation for the management of pain: Recommendations for best clinical practice

M Raff, R Melvill, G Coetzee, J Smuts


Spinal cord stimulation (SCS) is an accepted method of pain control. SCS has been used for many years and is supported by a substantial evidence base. A multidisciplinary consensus group has been convened to create a guideline for the implementation and execution of an SCS programme for South Africa (SA). This article discusses the evidence and appropriate context of SCS delivery, and makes recommendations for patient selection and appropriate use. The consensus group has also described the possible complications following SCS. This guideline includes a literature review and a summary of controlled clinical trials of SCS. 

The group notes that, in SA, SCS is performed mainly for painful neuropathies, failed back surgery, and chronic regional pain syndrome. It was noted that SCS is used to treat other conditions such as angina pectoris and ischaemic conditions, which have therefore been included in this guideline. These recommendations give guidance to practitioners delivering this treatment, to those who may wish to refer patients for SCS, and to those who care for patients with stimulators in situ. The recommendations also provide a resource for organisations that fund SCS. This guideline has drawn on the guidelines recently published by the British Pain Society, and parts of which have been reproduced with the society’s permission. 

These recommendations have been produced by a consensus group of relevant healthcare professionals. Opinion from outside the consensus group has been incorporated through consultation with representatives of all groups for whom these recommendations have relevance. The recommendations refer to the current body of evidence relating to SCS. The consensus group wishes to acknowledge and thank the task team of the British Pain Society for their help and input into this document.

Authors' affiliations

M Raff, Immediate Past President Pain SA, South African Society of Anaesthesiologists

R Melvill, Continental Vice President World Society for Stereotactic and Functional Neurosurgery, Society of Neurosurgeons of South Africa

G Coetzee, Exco Member of SA Spine Society (Academic affairs), Society of Neurosurgeons of South Africa

J Smuts, President Pain SA, Neurological Association of South Africa

Full Text



Spinal cord stimulation, pain management

Cite this article

South African Medical Journal 2013;103(6):423-430. DOI:10.7196/SAMJ.6323

Article History

Date submitted: 2012-09-16
Date published: 2013-03-26

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