Peripheral Nerve Stimulation (PNS)

Interrupts Pain Signals of Damaged Nerves

Peripheral nerve stimulation (PNS) involves implanting a small electrical device next to a peripheral nerve in order to interrupt pain signals.

Peripheral Nerve Stimulation Facts & Information

Performed on an outpatient basis, peripheral nerve stimulation places electrodes along the course of peripheral nerves, which are nerves outside of the brain and spinal cord. Peripheral nerves run throughout the body carrying messages for movement and sensation.

The electrodes, when turned on, introduce a small amount of electrical current to the targeted nerve(s), which helps to mask the pain your are feeling.

The procedure begins when the patient is given a local anesthetic (numbing agent) at the site of the insertion. The physician places a temporary stimulator wire along the painful nerve. Patients typically undergo a trial for several days to see if they feel better.

How Does Peripheral Nerve Stimulation Help?

Following a successful trial, a permanent device, consisting of thin wires with electrical leads on their tips, is placed through a needle under the skin. In addition, a battery is placed under the skin through a small incision. Everything is small enough to remain hidden under the skin. The system can be turned on or off by the patient using a remote control.

In addition to nerve injuries, a peripheral nerve stimulator implant is often used to treat conditions such as CRPS (complex regional pain syndrome) and lower back pain.

Don’t let the thought of “electrical current running through your body” get in your head. Though the procedure may sound intimidating, many patients have found significant relief using this implantation treatment.

How Long does the Procedure Take?

The trial procedure, performed on an outpatient basis, takes approximately 30 to 45 minutes and is followed by a short period of observed recovery. The procedure to implant the long-term device is performed by a surgeon in an outpatient surgical setting and, generally, takes about two hours.

How Often Should this Procedure be Done?

The peripheral nerve stimulator implant is usually permanent but can be easily reversed. Batteries will need to be replaced every few years, but this is a simple procedure.

What are the Expected Results?

Peripheral nerve stimulation (PNS) has a high success rate for reducing pain. The benefit from this procedure will occur almost immediately; however, you may experience some post-procedure soreness for a day or two.

It is recommended that you take it easy on the day of the procedure, but return to usual activities the following day.