Any pain that lasts longer than 12 weeks is considered chronic. Chronic pain can be challenging to treat, especially in the lower back. However, studies reveal that high-frequency spinal cord stimulation (SCS) may provide an effective, low-cost treatment option to alleviate chronic lower back pain.
What Is Spinal Cord Stimulation?
Spinal cord stimulation uses a device surgically implanted into the spinal cord to deliver electricity that blocks or changes nerve activity to reduce the pain communications reaching the brain.
Often, SCS is a last resort for patients who have exhausted non-surgical treatment options for chronic pain relief.
What Is Different About High-Frequency SCS?
Original SCS treatments used low-frequency (50 Hz) electrical pulses to block or modify nerve signals, a practice approved by the FDA in 1989. However, low-frequency SCS has some adverse side effects, most notably paresthesia, which is a feeling of tingling or prickling.
High-frequency SCS uses waveforms running up to 10,000 Hz, a treatment approved by the FDA in 2015. Until recently, the main benefit of choosing high-frequency over low-frequency SCS was the newer treatment’s lack of paresthesia as a side effect.
A new study shows that high-frequency SCS may offer additional significant benefits.
How Is High-Frequency SCS Better Than Low-Frequency?
A new research study published in the Journal of Bioelectronic Medicine revealed that high-frequency (10,000 Hz) SCS can be more effective in alleviating pain and reducing prescription painkiller requirements for patients with chronic lower back pain.
High-frequency SCS delivers stimulation pulses at higher wavelengths but in shorter duration and lower amplitude.
The study followed patients who received SCS, with some receiving low-frequency SCS and others receiving high-frequency SCS. Looking at male and female patients at three and six months post-implantation, all patients showed an improvement in their perceived pain.
However, patients receiving high-frequency SCS experienced a more significant reduction in their perceived pain and required fewer opioids to manage their chronic pain.
In addition to reducing pain, high-frequency SCS offers a low-cost alternative to many other chronic lower back pain treatments.
Can High-Frequency SCS Treat More Than Back Pain?
In addition to serving as an effective treatment for managing back pain, high-frequency SCS can also treat several chronic pain conditions, including:
- Chronic neck pain
- Complex regional pain syndrome
- Peripheral neuropathy
- Refractory angina
As researchers continue to study how SCS works to treat challenging chronic pain conditions, the treatment is gaining popularity as a safe and effective way to reduce debilitating chronic pain.
This post was written by a medical professional at Stemedix Inc. At Stemedix we provide access to Regenerative Medicine for spinal stenosis, also known as stem cell for spinal stenosis. Regenerative medicine has the natural potential to help improve symptoms sometimes lost from the progression of many conditions.