Electrical Stimulation and Intractable Limb Pain
Intractable back and limb pain can be a debilitating condition affecting every part of your life. And pain management can be tricky. For some people, especially the elderly, drug therapies can be confusing. And some do not tolerate medicines well.
Fortunately, electrical nerve stimulation can be an effective tool in the treatment of chronic limb and back pain. The procedure uses electrical current to stimulate nerves (peripheral nerve stimulation – PNS) or the spinal cord (spinal cord stimulation – SCS)
In both approaches, a small pulse generator sends electrical pulses to nerves or the spinal cord to block pain. The electrical current interferes with nerve impulses that make you feel pain.
Electrical nerve stimulation can be used to alleviate pain in people with severe nerve-related pain or numbness, chronic pain syndromes such as Failed Back Surgery Syndrome and Complex Regional Pain Syndrome.
The procedure usually has two steps. Your doctor will test your body’s response with a temporary electrode through your skin. The electrode is connected to a stimulator that the patient can control.
If the trial succeeds in controlling and reducing pain, your doctor will place a permanent stimulator under your skin through a small incision as an outpatient procedure using a local anesthetic. The stimulator sends impulses through coated wires inserted into the spinal canal or to nerves.
You and your doctor will work together to determine the best pulse intensity and frequency. A typical frequency is one to two hours, three to fours times a day.
Many people using the stimulator say it gives a tingling sensation.
Slightly more than half of all users say they have significant reductions in pain. The effect may decrease over time as your body adapts to the treatment.