What is Peripheral Nerve Stimulation?

Peripheral nerve stimulation explained by Denver, Golden, Aurora, Boulder, Broomfield, Jefferson, and Littleton Colorado’s top pain doctors

HeadachesPeripheral nerve stimulation is a form of pain treatment that is also called neuromodulation. This procedure entails implanting electrodes into the tissue that surrounds peripheral nerves that are responsible for pain and then administering a mild electrical current which disrupts the pain signals and provides patients with relief.

Research is starting to indicate that patients who do not experience pain relief from conventional treatments, and would like to discontinue taking pain medication, may benefit from peripheral nerve stimulation. This procedure is quite safe and several reports have demonstrated how effective this technique is at reducing pain that is associated with various conditions such as neuropathy and headaches.

How is Peripheral Nerve Stimulation Performed?

Patients are given a neuropsychological exam before they can undergo peripheral nerve stimulation in order to help the physician evaluate the severity of the patient’s condition and to identify the best region for the electrode placement. The actual procedure usually entails two separate stages. The first stage involves a trial period in which a patient will be implanted with temporary electrodes and receive stimulation for approximately one week.

Peripheral NerveThis trial period provides an indication of whether or not peripheral nerve stimulation will effectively reduce the patient’s pain. If the trial phase is not effective, the temporary electrodes can easily be removed and then alternative treatment methods can be discussed. If the trial period does provide some pain relief, then the second stage will involve surgically implanting permanent electrodes in the region of the body where the affected nerves are located.

This procedure is a safe treatment method that is minimally invasive. In addition, patients do not have to be heavily sedated and may remain awake in order to confirm both the placement of the electrodes and the efficacy of the stimulation during the entire process. In order to provide patients with extra comfort and less pain, local anesthesia is directly applied to the affected region before the implantation of the electrodes. After a small incision is made, a fluoroscope is utilized to guide the implantation of the electrodes. The electrodes are placed near the peripheral nerves that are responsible for the pain that is being experienced.

After confirming the correct placement of the electrodes, a mild electrical pulse is transmitted to the targeted nerves. The electrical pulse does not cause pain and patients usually report that they feel tingling sensations during the procedure. The purpose of the stimulation is to disrupt the transmission of pain signals from the brain, which provides patients with significant pain relief.

Most patients who undergo peripheral nerve stimulation experience a dramatic decrease in pain. In some cases, patients who received this treatment have even been able to reduce or stop taking pain medication that they previously needed to take daily. 

Conditions Related To Peripheral Nerve Stimulation

Peripheral Nerve ExplainedA common condition that is reported by individuals in both the United States and Europe, and can be treated with peripheral nerve stimulation, is headaches. Severe, persistent, and debilitating headaches affect approximately 2% of the population within these countries. Migraines, which are often referred to as a type of tension headache, are especially bothersome and typically affect individuals ages 25 to 50. There are additional types of headaches that people tend to suffer from and the number of headache-related diagnoses is continuously increasing. This makes it hard for medical professionals to establish headache treatments with long-lasting effects. Medication and other forms of conventional methods are typically recommended for headaches, but if these approaches are ineffective patients do not usually have many alternatives.

In addition to chronic headaches, reports indicate that peripheral nerve stimulation successfully treats the following conditions: occipital neuralgia, diabetic peripheral neuropathy, complex regional pain syndrome, and nerve injures. Furthermore, this surgical procedure is minimally invasive and only causes minimal side effects in some cases. The electrical stimulation of the tissue that the electrodes are implanted into does not cause damage and the stimulation can be stopped or reversed if deemed necessary.


Peripheral nerve stimulation is an effective treatment approach that relieves pain in patients who are suffering from various conditions such as neuralgia, nerve injuries, and headaches. In addition, when conventional methods or prescription medications are ineffective, peripheral nerve stimulation may be an optimal alternative. A mild electrical pulse is administered to the affected region, but this procedure is still reported to be safe because it does not cause organ or tissue damage. Research has also shown that most patients experience rapid and significant pain relief after undergoing peripheral nerve stimulation and many are able to decrease the dosage of pain relievers they may have been taking on a daily basis. 

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