How does peripheral nerve stimulation work?
What Is Peripheral Nerve Stimulation?
Peripheral nerve stimulation uses electrical energy to block specific nerves from sending pain signals to the brain. Delivering tiny electrical impulses to the nerve changes how it behaves and how often it fires.
Some data show that peripheral nerve stimulation actually changes signaling in the brain and how it perceives and responds to chronic pain. Because of the high frequency of the stimulation, you can’t feel it.
What Is the Placement Procedure Like?
Pain management specialists first identify which nerves in your body are causing chronic pain. Then, doctors use X-ray and ultrasound guidance to precisely place a thin electrode or lead next to the target nerve. The end of the lead, which can be as thin as dental floss or sewing thread, is either hidden under your skin or exits through your skin and is secured.
A removable, wearable transmitter and battery complete the device. After the peripheral nerve stimulation system is turned on, a handheld remote allows you to communicate with the system, customize your device settings, and maximize your pain relief.
What Types of Peripheral Nerve Stimulation Devices Are Available?
There are multiple types that are highly effective and low risk. Each device has its own strengths and may deliver different results depending on the type and location of your pain.
The SPRINT system is the least permanent. The SPRINT device is removed after 60 days but promises pain relief for up to -- and sometimes beyond -- two years. The small, lightweight transmitter and battery are worn on your skin. The system is placed in an outpatient clinic during short, minimally invasive procedures using only local anesthesia.
Am I a Candidate for Peripheral Nerve Stimulation?
According to Melanie, peripheral nerve stimulation is ideal for any type of chronic pain that is isolated (meaning it doesn’t radiate out into other areas of the body) and has an identifiable nerve target. This would include pain in your shoulder or knee, fibromyalgia, diabetic neuropathy, chronic regional pain syndrome (CRPS), and migraines, to name a few. If you have chronic pain and other treatments have failed or you want to take less medication, a pain medicine specialist can help you determine whether peripheral nerve stimulation is right for you.