Peripheral Nerve Stimulation

Neuropathy is just one of many nervous system disorders that can cause chronic, lifelong pain. More than 20 million Americans suffer from peripheral neuropathy according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders. However, this number is probably much higher due to misdiagnosis. Misdiagnosis often happens because neuropathy can be mistaken for a variety of other chronic conditions. The pain that comes with neuropathy can be managed with many non-surgical methods, pain medications, herbal supplements, and other therapies. However, these are often temporary solutions. If you’re suffering from any kind of nerve damage or neurological pain, you may qualify for peripheral nerve stimulation which can provide long-term pain relief for many patients. For more information, call The Pain Relief Center at 214-709-1904.

peripheral nerve stimulation

What is a Peripheral Nerve?

Peripheral nerves are an important part of your nervous system. The nervous system is basically made up of the brain, the spinal cord, and the peripheral nerves which extend from the spinal cord to every organ, finger, and toe on your body. All of these nerves send pain signals to the brain. If a disease happens to damage your nervous system and cause it to malfunction, patients could suffer from neuropathic pain.

Types of Peripheral Nerves

There are three main types of peripheral nerves including sensory, motor, and autonomic nerves.

Sensory Nerves

This type of peripheral nerve sends messages through your spinal cord to your brain about the five senses: sight, touch, taste, smell, and hearing. For example, if you accidentally touch a hot pan, your sensory nerves are the ones that tell your brain that it’s hot and that it hurts.

Motor Nerves

This type of peripheral nerve travels opposite of the sensory nerves because they send messages from your brain to your muscles. For example, if you touch a hot pan, these nerves will be the ones that make you jerk your hand away to stop the pain.

Autonomic Nerves

This type of peripheral nerve is in charge of everything you can’t control such as breathing, sweating, heart rate, digestion, blood pressure, bladder control, and more. Autonomic nerves are always ready to respond to any internal or external stressors in order to keep your body comfortable and healthy. For example, if you develop a fever, your resting heart rate may go up, your breathing may become faster and shallower, and you may start sweating in order to cool off.

What is Peripheral Nerve Stimulation (PNS) and How Does It Work?

Basically, peripheral nerve stimulation is a tiny implanted device that’s designed to stimulate peripheral nerves. The implant is a wire that’s about as thin as a strand of hair. Similarly to a pacemaker, peripheral nerve stimulation works by transmitting electrical signals to specific nerves that are causing severe pain. The electrical signals basically disrupt the original pain signals that are sent to the brain. It’s important to note that the peripheral nerve stimulation implant is not a permanent implant.

PNS Device Components

Each device comes with three components:
  • Battery
  • Super slim wire with electrodes for delivering pulses to the peripheral nerve
  • Remote which allows a patient to control the device settings
peripheral nerve stimulation

How is the PNS Device Inserted?

A qualified surgeon will typically perform a quick, outpatient procedure in order to insert the device. Because this is a minimally invasive procedure, it will generally take less than an hour. Your surgeon will start in the operating room by mildly sedating you and using a local anesthetic on your skin. Then they will make a small incision. Your surgeon may also use a needle to insert the device rather than inserting it through the small incision. The device placement will vary depending on the patient. Generally, the surgeon will insert it close to the nerve that’s causing you pain. Most patients recover quickly from the procedure because of the use of the local anesthetic.

How Long Does it Take for the PNS Implant to Start Working?

Most patients will experience chronic pain relief almost immediately after the insertion of their peripheral nerve stimulation device. But patients can expect to feel slightly sore for a day or two after their surgical procedure.

How Long Does the PNS Implant Last?

The answer to this question will vary depending on the type and brand of PNS implant you receive. However, it’s not a permanent implant. Most patients can use their implants for about 60 days.

Qualifying for a PNS Implant

Most doctors will only recommend the PNS implant if a patient meets certain criteria. Listed below are some of the things that a doctor will consider before prescribing a PNS implant.
  • The pain must be coming from a specific peripheral nerve, such as the ilioinguinal nerve or the pudendal nerve.
  • Has the patient tried a less invasive procedure or treatment before? Oral medications such as gabapentin or pregabalin, physical therapy, injections, and nerve blocks can relieve pain.
  • Is an untreated psychological disorder affecting peripheral nerve pain? If a patient hasn’t previously received a psychological evaluation, a doctor may recommend this first to rule out anxiety and personality disorders.

Common Causes of Neuropathic Pain

Many health problems can cause neuropathic pain symptoms, including:
  • Being an alcoholic
  • Long-term smoking
  • Diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • Issues with facial nerves
  • HIV or AIDS
  • Stroke, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, or other central nervous system disorders
  • Complex regional pain syndrome
  • Chemotherapy or radiation therapy
  • Phantom pain from amputations
  • Compression or inflammation of spinal nerves
  • Nerve compression due to tumors
  • Physical trauma by car accidents, falls, sports injuries, etc.
  • Blood clotting or other blood vessel disorders

Common Symptoms of Neuropathic Pain

Symptoms of this nervous system disorder generally include:
  • Sudden bouts of shooting, burning pain. Some patients describe it as “electric shock” pain.
  • Tingling and numbness
  • Pain from things that aren’t painful to the average person, such as cold temperatures or any kind of gentle pressure on the skin. Doctors call this condition allodynia.
  • Excessive pain from things like super-hot temperatures, pinpricks, cuts, scrapes, etc. Doctors call this condition hyperalgesia.
  • Insomnia
  • Psychological distress due to chronic pain
  • Muscle weakness or twitching

The Difference Between Peripheral Nerve Stimulation and Spinal Cord Stimulation (SCS)

Many patients may confuse peripheral nerve stimulators with spinal cord stimulators. However, the implants are different. The main difference is placement. SCS implants are always inserted in the same place, which is near the spinal cord. But surgeons can insert PNS implants almost anywhere on the body, generally depending on where the pain is. Another difference between the two implants is that SCS is generally used only for chronic pain. Meanwhile, doctors recommend PNS for both chronic and acute pain.

The Difference Between Peripheral Nerve Stimulation and Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS)

The main difference between PNS and TENS is that the former is an implant, and the latter isn’t. TENS basically sends electronic signals through sticky pads on the skin. Also, patients don’t need to undergo a surgical procedure for the sake of pain management from TENS. Similarly to PNS, TENS pads are placed around the painful area and can serve as a long-term solution to various chronic conditions.

Conditions That Peripheral Nerve Stimulation Can Treat

Neuropathic pain is just one condition that may improve with the peripheral nerve stimulation device. Listed below are many other conditions that PNS implants can potentially treat.
If you have a chronic condition listed above, the pain management that PNS provides may be right for you. However, if you suffer from severe pain in your abdomen, chest, or lower body, you can also look into dorsal root ganglion (DRG) stimulation instead.
peripheral nerve stimulation

Call The Pain Relief Center Today

If you’re suffering daily from nerve injuries, occipital neuralgia, or any of the other conditions listed previously, doctors at The Pain Relief Center want to give you relief. While the PNS implant isn’t a permanent implant, it can certainly provide long-term relief. This is especially the case if you feel like you’ve tried all other solutions and surgical options on the market. If you’re wondering if the PNS implant can provide relief from your nerve injury or chronic condition, call The Pain Relief Center at 214-709-1904 today.

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