What Peripheral Nerve Stimulation is and How It Differs From Spinal Cord Stimulation

Nerve stimulation therapy isn’t new. In fact, doctors have recommended this proven approach for more than 40 years. But what is it, and could it be right for you?

At Advanced Pain Management Center in Portland, Oregon, Vladimir Fiks, MD, offers two types of nerve stimulation therapy: Peripheral nerve stimulation and spinal cord stimulation. Here’s what you need to know about these highly effective pain management solutions.

The basics of neurostimulation therapy

Neurostimulation — or neuromodulation — is an exciting form of therapy that uses mild electrical pulses to interfere with pain signals going to the brain. This process changes how your brain receptors perceive pain, resulting in a drug-free solution for pain management. And all it takes is a precisely placed implantable pulse generator.

An implantable pulse generator is a tiny electrical device with a battery, electrodes, and remote control. It usually takes Dr. Fiks approximately one hour to place an implantable pulse generator, and you can go home the same day. Once in place, you can turn your device on and off as needed to manage your symptoms.

A neurostimulation device can help manage your pain if other therapies fail. Plus, you can usually go through a trial period to see if it provides results before having it surgically implanted. 

Depending on the source of your pain, Dr. Fiks could recommend a peripheral nerve stimulator or a spinal cord stimulator. 

Spinal cord stimulation and peripheral nerve stimulation

Your nervous system contains two main components: your central nervous system and your peripheral nervous system. Your central nervous system consists of your brain and spinal cord, and this system is the control center of your body. Your peripheral nervous system consists of all of the nerves outside of your central nervous system, and it carries messages from your central nervous system to the rest of your body.

Where your pain comes from dictates which type of device could work for you. A spinal cord stimulator would be the right option if the pain originated in your spine, and a peripheral nerve would be the right option if the pain originated anywhere else.

Spinal cord stimulation

When you get a spinal cord stimulator, Dr. Fiks inserts electrodes from your device into the epidural space of your spinal canal. Mild electrical pulses then disrupt the pain signals coming from the problematic region of your spinal canal. Spinal cord stimulators are highly effective at treating certain conditions, such as:

Peripheral nerve stimulation

People are often more familiar with spinal cord stimulation than peripheral nerve stimulation, but peripheral nerve stimulation has actually been around longer.

Like a spinal cord stimulator, Dr. Fiks implants a stimulator to deliver mild electrical pulses. However, instead of targeting the nerves in the central nervous system, the stimulator targets problematic nerves in the peripheral nervous system. This approach makes it highly effective for treating pain anywhere else in your body, ranging from your face all the way to your feet.

Pain conditions that respond to peripheral nerve stimulation include:

Peripheral nerve stimulation can also help relieve post-surgical pain, including post-amputation (phantom limb) pain.

If you have nerve pain, peripheral nerve stimulation or spinal cord stimulation could offer drug-free solutions. To learn more, book an appointment over the phone with Advanced Pain Management Center today.

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