New Spinal Cord Stimulation Found More Effective for Chronic Pain

Relief for chronic pain suffers may be on the way in the form of high-frequency spinal cord stimulation therapy.

Researchers have studied many methods to alleviate chronic pain, including opioids, surgery, and spinal cord stimulation therapy (SCS).  SCS involves an implanted device that sends electric pulses to the spinal cord, producing a form of paresthesia, or tingling sensation in the skin.  While SCS has been shown to provide temporary relief, many patients find the paresthesia side effects uncomfortable.

Researchers at the Wake Forest University in North Carolina wanted to look into a new treatment called HF10, which delivers up to 10,000 hertz of stimulation compared the traditional frequencies of 40-60 hertz, and doesn’t have the side effect of paresthesia.

For their study, researchers looked at 171 patients with chronic back or leg pain.  90 were given HF10 therapy and 81 were received traditional SCS.

The results, which are published in Anesthesiology, revealed that after 3 months, 85 percent of back pain patients and 83 percent of leg pain patients receiving HF10 therapy had a 50 percent reduction in pain or more and experienced no paresthesia.

Those receiving traditional SCS reported less successful results, with only 44 percent of back pain patients and 56 percent of leg pain patients having at least 50 percent pain reduction.

The study ran for one year and showed that HF10 produced a “very satisfied” outcome from more than half of its sample group, compared to only 32 percent of patients receiving traditional SCS.

SCS represents an alternative treatment for those avoiding surgery and opioid use.

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