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Peripheral Nerve Stimulation

Peripheral Nerve Stimulation (PNS) is a medical procedure used to treat chronic pain by targeting the peripheral nerves, which are the nerves located outside the brain and spinal cord. 

PNS works on the principle of electrical neuromodulation. It involves delivering mild electrical impulses to specific peripheral nerves, which can help interrupt or modify pain signals before they reach the brain. PNS is similar in principle to another technique called Spinal Cord Stimulation (SCS). However, while SCS targets nerves in the spinal cord, PNS targets the peripheral nerves.

What Can PNS Treat?

PNS has been used to treat various types of chronic pain, including:

  • Occipital Neuralgia: This is a type of headache caused by irritation or damage to the occipital nerves, which run from the top of the spinal cord up through the scalp. PNS can be used to target these nerves directly and alleviate the associated pain.
  • Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS): CRPS is a chronic pain condition characterized by prolonged or excessive pain, changes in skin color, and swelling in the affected area. PNS can help modulate the pain signals in CRPS patients.
  • Trigeminal Neuralgia: A chronic pain condition that affects the trigeminal nerve, which carries sensation from the face to the brain. PNS can provide relief from the sharp, stabbing pain associated with this condition.
  • Neuropathic Pain: This includes pain from nerve damage or malfunction, often characterized by a burning, tingling, or shooting sensation.
  • Post-surgical Nerve Pain: Sometimes, surgery can result in nerve damage or irritation. PNS can be used to treat pain that persists after a surgical procedure.
  • Peripheral Neuropathy: This refers to conditions where the peripheral nerves (those outside the brain and spinal cord) become damaged, often causing weakness, numbness, and pain. Carpal tunnel syndrome, ulnar neuropathy, peroneal neuropathy, and diabetic neuropathy are common types of peripheral neuropathies treated by PNS. 
  • Chronic Migraine or Chronic Headache: For certain patients who do not respond to conventional treatments, PNS may offer relief.
  • Chronic Pelvic Pain: PNS can be used to target nerves in the pelvis that might be responsible for chronic pain conditions in that region.
  • Postherpetic Neuralgia: This is pain that persists after the rash from shingles has healed, caused by damage to the nerves.
  • Joint Pain: Chronic joint pain, often arising from conditions like osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis, can sometimes be linked to peripheral nerve irritation or inflammation. PNS might offer relief by targeting these nerves and modulating pain signals.

What Are the Benefits of PNS?

  • Pain Relief: Many patients experience significant pain relief using PNS.
  • Minimally Invasive: The procedure to implant the electrode is usually minimally invasive.
  • Alternative to Medications: PNS can reduce or eliminate the need for pain medications in some patients.

How is the Procedure Performed?

Before the procedure, a thorough evaluation and diagnosis are conducted by one of Clearway’s expert pain specialists to determine if the patient is a suitable candidate for PNS.

Before committing to a permanent PNS system, patients typically undergo a trial stimulation. This involves temporarily placing the electrode to test the efficacy and to ensure the patient experiences pain relief. If the trial is successful and the patient reports significant pain relief, the decision can be made to proceed with permanent electrode placement.

If moving forward with a permanent system, a secondary procedure will be scheduled.

The permanent procedure is similar to the trial but includes the implantation of a small battery-powered pulse generator under the skin.

Recovery is typically quick, as the procedure is minimally invasive. Patients may be advised to avoid certain activities for a few weeks to prevent the dislodging of the electrode.

Are There Any Side Effects?

As with any medical procedure, there are potential risks. These might include infection, bleeding, or discomfort at the implant site. However, the procedure is generally considered safe when performed by experienced practitioners.

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In summary, Peripheral Nerve Stimulation is a therapeutic technique that uses electrical impulses to manage chronic pain by targeting the peripheral nerves. As always, the appropriateness of PNS for an individual should be discussed with a qualified healthcare provider. If you’re interested in learning if you could benefit from PNS, contact us today to schedule a consultation with one of our Board Certified providers.

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Are you ready to alleviate your pain and restore your physical function so you can live your best life – the one you want and deserve? The entire Clearway team is ready to help.

To request an appointment, please click the button below. You will be routed to our Patient Portal, where you can register with us by providing us with some basic information. We will get back as quickly as possible to set up and confirm your appointment day and time. Just below the form, we provide answers to some of the most frequently asked questions, as well.

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