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Chronic pain can affect nearly everything you do: standing, sitting, walking and working. Chronic pain is usually managed with non-surgical methods such as oral medications, injections and nerve blocks. When these options fail and severe pain turns into a chronic condition, peripheral nerve and field stimulation may be the next step for you.
What is peripheral nerve and field stimulation?
Peripheral nerve and field stimulation is a type of neuromodulation, which is a surgical procedure that implants electrodes in the body to change how the nervous system works. Peripheral nerve and field stimulation involves placing the electrodes directly on nerves or under the skin in the region of pain. It is a minimally invasive procedure, requiring a small incision over the targeted area.
Peripheral nerve and field stimulation is different from spinal cord stimulation because it places the stimulating device directly over the nerve at the targeted pain area, not on the spinal cord where the nerve originates.
Am I a candidate for peripheral nerve and field stimulation for back pain?
If medications and other therapies fail to treat your pain symptoms, your doctor considers surgical options. You may also be a candidate for peripheral nerve and field stimulation if you experience:
- Nerve injury
- Nerve entrapments
- Complex regional pain syndrome
- Occipital Neuralgia
- Chronic Headaches
What happens during peripheral nerve and field stimulation surgery?
Patients are awake during peripheral nerve and field stimulation surgery so we can test the electrodes and make sure they are in the right place. A local anesthetic is used. The procedure happens in two stages:
- Stage 1: Using X-ray guidance, your neurosurgeon places an electrode over the targeted pain spot. The device is tested so the patient can tell us if they feel the stimulation in the correct place. Patients try out the stimulation for about a week to make sure peripheral nerve and field stimulation is right for them.
- Stage 2: If patients like the results after one week, they return to the operating room for a permanent implant.
What to expect after peripheral nerve and field stimulation for pain relief
Patients considering peripheral nerve and field stimulation should have realistic expectations for results. The surgery relieves symptoms, but it is not a cure. Approximately 2 out of 3 patients will experience significant relief during the trial period (Stage I) and will proceed with a permanent implant. Of those who receive a permanent implant, approximately 2 out of 3 patients will report long-term pain relief. Overall, the success rate is about 40 percent.
Interested in peripheral nerve and field stimulation at UCLA? Get prepared for your first appointment.