Peripheral nerve stimulation for long-term pain relief

A new study has been published in the Journal of Pain Research that suggests nerve stimulation therapy could reset the central nervous system to provide long-term pain relief. Percutaneous peripheral nerve stimulation (PNS), also known as nerve modulation, is not a new therapy – it’s been in use for over 50 years – but there have been great technological advances in recent years.

Your body’s central nervous system is composed of your brain and spinal cord and the peripheral nerves are the nerves that extend beyond the central nervous system to your extremities – all the way to your fingers and toes. Peripheral nerve stimulation (PNS) changes the way your brain perceives pain by using electrical pulses to interrupt the pain signals from the peripheral nerves to the brain.

A new theory proposes that by stimulating the peripheral nerves it may be possible to restore healthy pain processing. The pain relief that was reported by some patients on the study lasted for several years of more.

Resetting pain signals

The concept behind the study is that lack of mobility and movement due to discomfort can result in more pain being felt by conveying fewer healthy messages to the cortex. PNS can be used to induce muscle contractions, normalising the central processing and resulting in less pain.

The study’s author, Dr Timothy Deer, President & CEO of The Spine and Nerve Center of the Virginias, states: “The theoretical framework for central reconditioning provides a significant conceptual advancement in regard to how a short-term treatment may produce long-lasting results. 

“The clinical implications of this theory support the notion of preferentially using a short-term PNS treatment early in the care pathway as a means of helping patients.”

What types of pain can peripheral nerve stimulation treat?

 PNS has been used to treat pain resulting from a number of conditions. These include complex regional pain syndrome, headache disorders, diabetic peripheral neuropathy, low back pain, post-surgery pain and trigeminal neuralgia. For more advice on the different treatment options for pain relief, call 01633 820300to arrange a consultation with Dr Ivanova-Stoilova at the St Joseph’s Hospital, Newport.