A paper recently published in the Journal of the American Society of Anesthesiologists indicates that high-frequency stimulation is more effective for back pain compared to low-frequency stimulation which was considered to be better.
Spinal cord stimulation therapy is a method used to alleviate chronic pain. Over 1.5 billion people all around the world suffer from chronic pain and those who suffer from this for a long period of time can have their daily wellbeing seriously affected if the treatments they employ are not efficient. Chronic pain can last from a couple of weeks to an increased number of years. Almost one in four US citizens suffer from some sort of chronic pain.
Besides surgery and opioids patients who suffer from chronic back pain around 50.000 patients in the US use spinal cord stimulation therapy. This technique involves a small device which is implanted under the skin and delivers electric pulses to the spinal cord. The device emits a type of paresthesia, which feels like tingling. What spinal cord simulation does is not to cure the patients, but it simply interrupts the pain signals sent to the brain. It is just a form of temporary relief.
While some patients say that this therapy helps reducing the pain some believe that the paresthesia which comes along with it is uncomfortable. Researchers have tried to come up with a way of reducing the effect of paresthesia.
The research team was led by Professor of anesthesiology Leonardo Kapural at Wake Forest University School of Medicine who is also clinical director at Carolinas Pain Institute at Brookstown. For the study the researchers analyzed 171 patients who suffered from chronic back and leg pain. 81 of them were treated with the usual spinal cord simulation therapy, whereas 90 of them received a new treatment called HF10. Unlike a traditional treatment which uses frequencies of 40-60 hertz the new treatment was capable of delivering up to 10.000 hertz.
After a period of three months researchers observed that in the group of the patients who received the new treatment 85 percent of those who suffered from back pain and 83 percent of those who suffered from leg pain said that they experienced at least 50 percent reduction in pain. In addition they no longer felt the effect of paresthesia.
Professor Kapural remakred:
Chronic back and leg pain have long been considered difficult to treat and current pain relief options such as opioids have limited effectiveness and commonly known side effects. Given the prevalence of chronic pain, high frequency SCS is an exciting advance for our patients.”
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