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neurostimulation

Neurostimulation is an established form of pain therapy that treats nerves with electrical stimulation rather than drugs.  While chronic pain is becoming better recognized by the medical community at large, the danger of opioids for addiction, diversion or misuse in patients is well documented. Opioid use is a poor choice for long-term, chronic conditions because it requires escalating doses to bring relief, but with a host of undesirable side effects.


Clinical studies show neurostimulation to be safe and effective, and is approved by the FDA to treat chronic pain of the trunk and limbs. Neurostimulation therapies modulate the function of nerves with low-intensitity electrical impulses. Hypersensitive or damaged nerves that send unwarranted pain signals can be muted (or, in a sense, blocked) by neurostimulator impulses.

In many cases, neurostimulation is considered to be more effective when used at the outset of chronic pain. If efficacy is achieved, patients spend less time and money on managing their conditions.


A few common forms of neurostimulation are as follows:


Spinal cord stimulation (SCS)
SCS has been in use for decades in the U.S., with thousands of patients opting for the therapy annually. People with chronic back or leg pain report reductions in pain severity of 50 percent or more.  In spinal cord neurostimulation, electrodes from a device are implanted under the skin in contact with the spinal cord.

Peripheral nerve stimulation
Peripheral nerve stimulation is used to treat chronic pain. In PNS therapies, the electrodes are inserted next to one of the peripheral nerve branches located beyond the brain or spine, such as the vagus nerve. Common applications of PNS include vagus nerve stimulation for treatment of back, arthritic, joint Pain, neuropathy, and to increase mobility; and occipital nerve stimulation for migraine headaches.  Pudendal nerve stimulation is being investigated for use in urinary bladder incontinence.  If local anesthetic in the associated nerve network reduces pain, PNS should be considered as an early treatment option.

Appropriate use of neurostimulation can improve quality of life for chronic pain patients, offering a less invasive, costly and risky