Neuromodulation for Back Pain

Neuromodulation for Back Pain

An estimated 80 percent of adults experience lower back pain at some point in their lives with some facing chronic pain and others intermittent pain. Certainly, a “slipped disc” or a herniated disc is considered one of the most painful conditions there are. Herniated refers to a vertebral disc that is damaged in some fashion or shifted out of its proper place.


Herniated discs can put pressure on the sciatica – a large nerve that runs from your lower spine down the back of your legs and into your feet. The pain can be persistent or it can appear suddenly and recedes just as quickly. But when it is present, it is a searing, sharp, stabbing pain that feels almost electric. The pain can radiate through your hips, buttocks, back, and legs.


Boston PainCare Study


However, there is a relatively new approach to lower back pain that should be discussed with your physician if you are suffering from chronic sciatica or lower back pain. That treatment is called high-frequency neural stimulation. A recent study conducted by Boston PainCare in Waltham, Mass., found promising results with this technique. In fact, they reported that 71.4 percent of patients in a chronic back pain study found sustained relief using a high frequency (10 kHz) system to send pulses to nerve endings. These pulses disrupt pain signals going to the brain.

There was a 28 percent drop in pain medications taken by the trial study group that used high frequency nerve stimulation

Overall, there was a 28 percent drop in pain medications taken by the trial study group that used high-frequency nerve stimulation. There was an even more substantial drop in self-reported pain scores and a lower number of disability reports. (A disability report is a missed day of work due, in this case, to back pain.) The reduction in pain scores for back pain was 46 percent. Scores for leg pain dropped 50.9 percent.


How It Works


High-frequency neural stimulation falls into the category of biotechnology. It’s not a medication. It’s a gadget. It works by way of microelectrodes implanted close to the designated nerves. These are so small, they are put into place by way of a hollow needle. Doctors use an imaging technique to show them exactly where to place the electrodes.


Patients usually try neuromodulation (as it is called) on a trial basis to see how well it works for them. During the trial, they carry around a pulse generator and a handheld device to activate it. If the trial run proves successful, patients then have a pulse generator implanted under the skin. The patient still activates the system by use of a handheld device.


When back pain strikes, the patient activates the pulse generator. This sends high-frequency pulses to the nerve endings, which disrupts the pain signals you would otherwise feel. If the pain is particularly strong, patients can modify the pulses to make them more intense. If the pain subsides, the patient can turn the system off.


Talk It Over


Needless to say, having a high-frequency nerve stimulation system is a decision you will need to discuss with your physician. Is it right for you? Should it be part of your pain management strategy? Can it help you reduce your dependence on pain medications?  Physicians and staff at Sorrento Valley Pain Relief Center are dedicated to the need to re-think pain management strategies in light of the opioid addiction epidemic.

Call 858-280-3196 in San Diego to discuss pain management options with the dedicated Sorrento Valley Pain Relief Center staff.

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