Peripheral nerve stimulation in the treatment of intractable pain

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✓ Peripheral nerve stimulating devices were implanted for pain control in 33 patients with a variety of disabling chronic pain conditions, which had persisted despite usual medical and surgical therapy. The implants were placed on major nerves innervating the area of the patient's pain. Records were obtained of each patient's stated relief from pain produced by nerve stimulation, along with assessments of narcotic withdrawal, ability to return to work, sleep pattern, and relief from depression. Based on these five criteria 17 patients were judged to be treatment failures, while eight patients had excellent results, and seven had intermediate results. Twelve of the failures were in patients with either low back pain with sciatica, or pain from metastatic disease. The most dramatic successes occurred in patients with peripheral nerve trauma. The incidence of complications has been low, and two patients have used the stimulator for 5 years without adverse effects. Techniques of peripheral stimulator implantation, possible mechanisms of action, and conclusions regarding peripheral nerve stimulation in the treatment of chronic pain are discussed.

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Address reprint requests to: Donlin M. Long, M.D., Department of Neurosurgery, Johns Hopkins Hospital, 601 North Broadway, Baltimore, Maryland 21205.
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