Getting relief from pain can be shocking


People suffering from chronic pain caused by a nerve injury are experiencing relief through the use of electrical stimulation of the spinal cord. The journal Neuromodulation, published by Blackwell on behalf of the International Neuromodulation Society and the International Functional Electrical Stimulation Society, just released findings from a series of new studies that reveals a successful new way to apply electrical fields to the spinal cord for pain relief. These studies review a new spinal cord stimulation system recently approved by the FDA for chronic pain.

Half of all physicians' office visits in the U.S. are related to pain, creating an estimated economic cost to society of $100 billion annually, and afflicting approximately 70 million Americans.[1] Half of Americans suffering from chronic pain become partially or totally disabled. Spinal cord stimulation (SCS) has been used for over 30 years for the treatment of chronic pain, and patients using SCS therapy visit hospitals less frequently, use fewer narcotics and opiates, and lead more healthy and active lifestyles. [2] While technology has helped to improve the SCS devices and make them more flexible, it has challenged researchers and medical engineers to develop an adaptable system with an increased number of stimulation contacts and flexible programming options.

The data published is from a multi-center study on the use of a new neurostimulation system. This new system is unique in its use of a current-shifting programming technique for spinal cord stimulation. The changing distribution of electrical current shifts the electric field along the spinal cord, resulting in real-time, dynamic paresthesia steering. This process is known as continuous electric field adjustment (CEFA).

Author Dr. John Oakley observed, "The use of continuous electric field adjustments enabled us to use up to 71 combinations, assessed in just four minutes. This, along with patient feedback, can help implanting physicians realize the best locations of leads and therefore maximize therapeutic possibilities. It's about helping patients experience less pain."

About the Author

John Oakley, MD is the director of pain management for the Northern Rockies Pain Rehabilitation Center in Billings, Montana. A board certified neurological surgeon and board certified in Pain Management through the American Board of Pain Medicine, Dr. Oakley is the principal author of the acute study performed at Yellowstone Neurosurgical Associates, Pasadena Rehabilitation Institute, Pacific Pain treatment Center and Advanced Bionics Corporation. For questions and interviews, please e-mail Dr. Oakley at [email protected] or call 406-238-6650.

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 21 Feb 2009
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