Revue Neurologique
2021 Sep;177(7):838-842.doi: 10.1016/j.neurol.2021.07.014. Epub 2021 Aug 9.

D Fontaine


Spinal cord stimulation (SCS) is used for more than 40years to treat localized chronic medically refractory neuropathic pain involving limb(s) and trunk. The most frequent indications remain complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) failed back surgery syndrome (FBSS), and peripheral neuropathy. Stimulation-induced paresthesias, perceived by the patient, prevent blinded evaluation and increase the placebo effect, decreasing the credibility of the tonic SCS efficacy. Retrospective studies reported that about 50% of the patients are improved more than 50% at short-term, but long-term improvement is less. Several comparative randomized trials (RCT) are now available. In CRPS, a RCT demonstrated the superiority of SCS plus physiotherapy compared to physiotherapy alone. In FBSS, two RCTs have shown that SCS was superior to reoperation and conventional medical treatment, (CMM) respectively. New stimulation waveforms, namely burst, high frequency (10KHz) stimulation and close-loop SCS, have been proposed recently to avoid the perception of paresthesias and/or increase the pain relief. RCTs in FBSS have suggested that these new SCS modalities were as least as efficient than conventional tonic SCS and perhaps slightly superior. Two RCTs confirmed SCS efficacy in painful diabetic neuropathy in comparison with CMM. Complications are frequent (hardware dysfunction or migration, superficial infection) but exceptionally serious. Consequently, the risk/benefit ratio is favorable to SCS, considering that chronic pain patients undergoing this procedure are usually resistant to all the other therapies.

Keywords: Chronic pain; Neuromodulation; Neuropathic pain; Review; Spinal cord stimulation.

Spinal cord stimulation for neuropathic pain