Peripheral Nerve Stimulation
Peripheral nerve stimulation is commonly used to treat chronic pain in the lower back, arms, legs or abdomen by essentially blocking the delivery of pain signals to the brain. Your surgeon places a thin electrical wire next to a specific peripheral nerve – those that are outside the brain or spinal cord. A tiny generator is used to send electric pulses through the wire, creating a tingling sensation in place of the pain. Or in many cases, turn off the pain signal.
The implant can be temporary during the initial testing. But if it works, a small generator -- an electrical device with a battery, electrodes and a remote control -- is implanted under the skin. The outpatient procedure takes 45 minutes or less and is guided by advanced imaging.
The procedure can be used to treat a wide range of chronic pain conditions, including complex regional pain syndrome, lower back pain, phantom limb pain and peripheral neuropathy. The treatment is a strong alternative to opioid pain killers.
Are There Different Approaches to This Treatment?
The electrical wire can be implanted in many places throughout the body. First, your team will work with you to identify the specific nerve (or nerves) that are responsible for your pain.
Your doctor will help you decide if the treatment is right for you, and a trial will be done to determine if this an effective treatment. A permanent stimulator is implanted during an outpatient procedure. Recovery is based on the area treated, but most discomfort resolves in three or four days.