Chronic pain can be debilitating and overshadow everything else in a patient’s life. Within the scope of all possible treatments, one that stands out is the use of peripheral nerve stimulation. This methodology has proven to have numerous successful use cases. It now forms a crucial part of the a pain condition treatment in Perrysburg, Ohio.
What is Peripheral Nerve Stimulation?
This refers to a surgery that places a small electronic device adjacent to one of the peripheral nerves (i.e., beyond the brain and spinal cord). This device is similar to a pacemaker in the way that it delivers electrical pulses to the nerves themselves. This stimulation helps to manage pain and is typically controlled by the patient.
It was a treatment invented in the 1960s, but only in 2012 did it receive wide-enough regulatory approval to be used more seriously. Comprehensive Centers for Pain Management offers the Nalu micro-IPG peripheral nerve stimulator, on the cutting edge of neuromodulation technology. Measuring just 28 x 11 mm, this implant fits on a fingertip.
When Should Peripheral Nerve Stimulation Be Considered?
Due to minimally-invasive nature of the Nalu compared to previous peripheral nerve stimulators, treatment is more accessible than ever. Without the need for an implanted battery, this has become one of the best options for difficult to treat peripheral nerve pain.
The goal of such a treatment is to manage the pain itself, regardless of its cause, and reduce dependence on medication as a result. The chances of a drastically improved result will depend on a number of different factors, and your pain doctor in Toledo, Ohio will be best placed to help you understand the potential benefits for your specific case.
What Does the Process Look Like?
When it’s been decided to go with peripheral nerve stimulation, the process will start with a thorough neurophysical examination. This is designed to evaluate the current state, understand the nature of the proposed surgery, and plan a path towards a successful outcome. From there, a trial run will take place, which involves using temporary electrodes along the length of the peripheral nerve. The idea here is to ensure that stimulation is actually going to provide relief.
If the pain doesn’t subside during this test run, then, the electrodes will be removed, and the doctor will consider other options. If there is some pain relief, permanent electrodes will be placed at the specific site. Unlike other peripheral nerve stimulators, Nalu is an extremely small pulse generator inserted under the skin, and an External Transmitter Module (ETM) is worn outside the body rather than inserted under the skin, allowing for easy batter replacements. Once this is in place, the electrical pulse settings can be customized according to the patient using their smartphone. Eventually, the patient will have full control over how to use the device.
All of this is done under local anesthesia, and generally, it has really good results. You’ll be able to go home the same day as the procedure, and then you’ll go through a 6-week period where it’s recommended that you take things easy. After that period, you’ll have a checkup with your medical team to assess the results. Assuming all has gone well, you can then, return to normal day-to-day life.
What are the Risks Involved?
As with any surgery, there are certain risks that you undertake when going through such treatment. There is a risk of infection during the surgery, additional bleeding and other surgery-specific complications. In addition, you’ll have the normal risks that come with anesthesia – but your medical team will explain all this to you in advance. With all that being said, the field has come a long way in recent decades, and these risks are very well managed.
There are a few other things that are important to understand when you’re thinking about peripheral nerve stimulation. Here are a few of the more important ones:
- Metal Detectors.
With the device implanted within you, it will tend to trigger metal detectors at places like airports, museums, and other security checkpoints. It’s good to be proactive in these situations and explain in advance, so that you can avoid unnecessary disruption. If it helps, having a note from your doctor can also help to alleviate any potential concerns on the part of the other party.
- Battery Replacements.
Many patients ask how long the batteries will last, and the good news is that they can last for several years – meaning you can just set it and forget it. When the time comes to replace them, it can be done easily and efficiently – so you can get back at it as soon as possible.
- Diminishing Returns.
The benefit that patients experience tends to gradually decline over time, even though it’s over a scale of several years. To compensate for this, the stimulator has various settings in terms of intensity and frequency. As the pain relief decrease, the settings can be increased to return the device to its full functionality. This will depend on a case-by-case basis, but typically this ensures that you receive benefits for a long time to come.
- Technological Advancements.
The field continues to evolve year after year, and as more investment goes into invasive medical devices, things continue to improve. Therefore, getting a device that is on the cutting edge, such as Nalu offered by Comprehensive Centers for Pain Management, is significantly better than an older model, so you can benefit from the various advancements that have been made.
Hopefully, this gives you a more holistic view of what peripheral nerve stimulation is all about – and how it might impact your day-to-day life.
In conclusion, peripheral nerve stimulation is a powerful and increasingly relevant interventional pain management option for those who suffer from chronic pain. Due to the minimally-invasive nature of this surgery, it is something that provides tremendous benefit at very low risk. If it sounds like this might be of use to you, be sure to speak to your doctor to ascertain whether it is a viable option.