Spinal Cord Stimulation: Potential But Unproven Treatment for Patients with Neuropathic Pain

Posted by The Evidence Blog on March 20, 2012

by Karen Matthias, MBA, RN, Vice President, Sales and Marketing

In the United States, approximately 8 of 100 people suffer from neuropathic pain, the type of pain that often seems to have no obvious cause. Symptoms may include shooting and burning pain or numbness and tingling.

Unfortunately, neuropathic pain responds poorly to standard pain therapies and often causes severe disability and poor quality of life (QOL). In fact, health-related QOL in patients with chronic neuropathic pain is similar to that reported by those with cancer and chronic heart failure.

Spinal cord stimulation (SCS), which involves the electrical stimulation of spinal nerves using electrodes implanted into the spinal cord, has been proposed as a possible treatment for neuropathic pain. We recently completed a health technology assessment on the use of SCS for the relief of neuropathic pain and examined these relevant questions:

  • Does SCS provide effective relief for patients with neuropathic pain and how does it compare with other methods of neuropathic pain relief?
  • What impact does SCS have on the QOL of patients with neuropathic pain?
  • Is SCS therapy for the treatment of neuropathic pain safe?
  • Have definitive patient selection criteria been established for the use of SCS for the relief of neuropathic pain?

Our research shows that SCS reduces pain and improves QOL in certain patients; however, the durability of these therapeutic effects beyond 2 years is uncertain.
Hayes clients can access this complete health technology assessment, along with the Hayes Rating applied to this technology, through our Knowledge Center. If you are not a Hayes client, but would like to purchase a single copy of this report, please contact us.

Topics: Health Technologies, Hayes Blog

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