Peripheral Nerve Stimulator

What is a Peripheral Nerve Stimulator?

A Peripheral Nerve Stimulator (PNS) is a medical device that uses electrical impulses to stimulate peripheral nerves and relieve chronic pain. It consists of electrodes placed near the affected nerves, which are connected to a generator that sends out low-voltage electrical pulses. The electrical stimulation interferes with the pain signals being transmitted to the brain, reducing the perception of pain. PNS is used to treat various types of chronic pain, such as chronic back pain, neck pain, and chronic regional pain syndrome. It is a minimally invasive procedure that does not require incisions or surgical implantation, and it is usually done on an outpatient basis.

Who might be suited for peripheral nerve stimulation?

Peripheral Nerve Stimulation (PNS) may be suitable for individuals with chronic pain who have not found relief with other treatments, such as medications, physical therapy, and nerve blocks. The following groups of people may be good candidates for PNS:

  1. People with chronic pain conditions such as chronic back pain, neck pain, and chronic regional pain syndrome.
  2. Individuals with failed back surgery syndrome, who have not found relief from previous surgeries.
  3. People with neuropathic pain, which is caused by nerve damage.
  4. People with chronic pain due to conditions such as arthritis, fibromyalgia, and spinal stenosis.

However, PNS is not suitable for everyone and the suitability depends on various factors such as the cause and severity of the pain, medical history, and overall health. It is important to consult a healthcare provider to determine if PNS is an appropriate treatment option for an individual’s specific pain condition.

What is a trial for a peripheral nerve stimulator?

A trial for a Peripheral Nerve Stimulator (PNS) is a diagnostic and therapeutic procedure that helps evaluate the effectiveness of PNS in relieving chronic pain. The trial involves the temporary placement of PNS electrodes near the affected nerves and a temporary generator, which sends low-voltage electrical pulses to the electrodes. The trial is usually done on an outpatient basis and is used to determine the following:

  1. The effectiveness of PNS in reducing pain: The trial helps to determine if PNS can relieve chronic pain and provide significant pain relief.
  2. The best stimulation parameters: The trial helps to determine the best electrical stimulation parameters such as frequency, amplitude, and pulse width to achieve maximum pain relief.
  3. The tolerance to electrical stimulation: The trial helps to determine if the patient can tolerate the electrical stimulation and if there are any adverse effects.
  4. The patient’s ability to use the device: The trial helps to determine if the patient is able to use the device comfortably and if it interferes with their daily activities.

The results of the trial help the healthcare provider to determine if PNS is a suitable long-term treatment option for the patient’s chronic pain. If the trial is successful, the temporary electrodes and generator can be replaced with a permanent implantable device.

The Permanent Implant

The Peripheral Nerve Stimulator (PNS) trial procedure typically involves the following steps:

  1. Preparation: Before the procedure, the patient will have a consultation with their healthcare provider to discuss the details of the trial and any pre-procedure instructions.
  2. Numb the area: A local anesthetic is used to numb the area where the electrodes will be placed.
  3. Place the electrodes: The healthcare provider will place the electrodes near the affected nerves, either through a needle or a small incision. The electrodes are then connected to a temporary generator.
  4. Turn on the generator: The generator is turned on and the patient will start to feel the electrical stimulation. The healthcare provider will adjust the stimulation parameters as needed to find the best setting for maximum pain relief.
  5. Evaluation: The patient will be monitored for pain relief and any adverse effects during the trial. The patient may be asked to keep a pain diary to record the level of pain before and during the trial.
  6. Removal: After the trial, the electrodes and generator will be removed. The patient will be monitored for any adverse effects after the removal of the device.

The entire procedure typically takes about one to two hours and is usually done on an outpatient basis. The patient can go home the same day and can resume normal activities, but they may need to avoid strenuous activity for a few days after the procedure.