11 Apr Is High Frequency Pulse Stimulation Right For You?
A new study published by doctors at Boston PainCare in Waltham, Massachusetts, supports the concept that spinal cord nerve stimulation can reduce pain in the lower extremities, which means the legs and feet.
The study focused on chronic back pain, which often includes pain in the lower extremities.
Doctors set up a control group of 64 chronic patients, defined as patients who have dealt with lower back pain for two years. For a year, treatment of these patients was categorized as “conventional medical management,” which focused on opioid pain medication, epidural steroid injections, chiropractic manipulation, topical analgesic pain relief, heat, massage, and other traditional methods.
Another 32 patients were treated with high-frequency spinal cord stimulators. Now, what are those?
What is it?
Spinal cord stimulation is a form of neural modulation, which falls under the general category of medical technology. This is not a biological treatment so much as it is a mechanical one. Micro-electrodes (so tiny they are inserted by use of a hollow needle) is placed near the afflicted nerves or next to the spinal cord. A pulse generator is activated by the use of a handheld device. This sends high-frequency (10 kHz) pulses from the micro-electrodes to the nerve endings.
In practice, after a trial period with this device, if a patient and doctor decide the results are promising, the pulse generator, which is very small, is surgically placed under the skin. The patient then activates the pulses on an as-needed basis, when the pain flares up, for example.
In the clinical study, the 32 patients outfitted with high-frequency spinal cord stimulators came away with promising results. Over 70 percent of the patients significantly reduced their use of opioid pain medication, thereby reducing the risk of addiction and side effects, such as drowsiness.
The patients with high-frequency spinal cord stimulators also reported less pain and fewer incidents of disability.
Clinically, the use of pain pills a year later amounted to drop of 26.2 mg “morphine equivalent,” which meant a 28 percent reduction from baseline in their reliance on pain pills.
”Among those with SCS, there were significant within-group reductions in numerical pain score(s) with low back and lower extremity pain reducing by 46.2 percent and 50.9 percent from baseline, respectively,” the study found.
The Bottom Line:
Bottom line: If you suffer from chronic lower extremity pain, including foot pain, consult with a podiatrist to see if high-frequency spinal cord stimulation is right for you.